By Musa Sunusi Ahmad

The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy platform in Nigeria: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the President, His Excellency, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) (GCFR) to be a Statesman and not interfere in the coming election in Edo state to select the governor of the state. HURIWA said it was completely out of order for President Muhammadu Buhari to be seen extremely concerned about the outcome of the election when in actual fact as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is holding office on behalf of the entirety of Nigeria and not the President of All Progressives Congress. The Nigerian President is by his Oath of office expected to be above board and must not be seen actively promoting one sided agenda but should be the CHAMPION OF A PAN NIGERIAN AGENDA. A PAN NIGERIAN AGENDA AS TO CONCERNS ELECTION IS THAT TENDENCY WHICH ENSURES THAT THERE IS ELECTORAL INTEGRITY, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY.

“We have observed with sock and disappointment that the campaign council setup by the ALL progressively Congress headed by the governor of Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje flew into Benin, the Edo State capital on a presidential jet belonging to all of Nigeria. If this trending news report is anything to go by, then we absolutely condemn this reckless display of political rascality and flagrant abuse of power which offends section 15(5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that:
”The state s0hall abolish all
Corrupt practice and abuse of power”.

“We, in HURIWA view this naked show of reckless executive power manifested in the illegal use of the people’s public jet for a partisan affair such as conveying the campaign team of the APC to Benin City as reported which we believe is meant to tell the electoral umpire that the President’s mind is that the electoral process be manipulated in favour of the party that controls presidential power which incidentally is the appointing authority of the INEC. We hereby warn INEC to ensure that the governorship poll is free, fair, transparent and peaceful. INEC must not be intimidated by either the federally controlled security forces or should they out of intimidation already displayed by the fact that the presidential jet was deployed to convey campaign team of APC, to then manipulate the electoral process. We want to caution INEC that any attempt to rig the poll may not augur well for stability of Nigeria. We appeal to both the PDP and the APC as well as other political players participating in the poll to see the election as an opportunity for the good people of Edo state to DEMOCRATICALLY ELECT THEIR FREELY CHOSEN GOVERNOR. THE PEOPLE OF EDO MUST BE ALLOWED TO EXERCISE THEIR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS TO FREELY CHOOSE WHO SHOULD BE THEIR GOVERNOR. THERE MUST BE NO INTERFERENCE FROM EXTERNAL PERSONS BE THEY FORMER GOVERNORS, CURRENT GOVERNORS OR THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA. INEC HAS FAILED ON MANY OCCASIONS TO DELIVER FREE, FAIR, TRANSPARENT AND PEACEFUL POLL; NIGERIANS ARE WATCHING TO SEE IF THE EDO ELECTION WILL BE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MORALLY DEPRAVED INEC TO REDEEM THEMSELVES FROM PAST MISDEEDS. WE ASK THE SECURITY FORCES TO STAY OBJECTIVE AND TO ONLY WORK FOR PUBLIC GOOD AND MUST NOT BE USED AS AGENTS BY THEIR COMMANDER IN CHIER TO UNDERMINE THE WILL OF THE NIGERIAN PEOPLE.

HURIWA wants the Edo state governorship poll to b a credible election. As stated by experts, we agree that inclusive elections provide equal opportunities for all eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election to government. This right to participate is a broad concept and can only be subject to reasonable restrictions that are provided by law. Authorities must take steps to assess and remove any barriers to the participation of all citizens. This includes removing barriers for traditionally marginalized populations such as ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities; women, youth or elderly citizens; and persons with disabilities. Reasonable restrictions on participation should be narrow, like a minimum age for voting and standing as an electoral contestant.

Elections are transparent when each step is open to scrutiny, and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately. The principle of transparency is linked to the fundamental right of citizens to seek, receive and impart information (which are elements of the freedom of expression), as well as the right to take part in government and public affairs.[2] Decision making processes must be open to scrutiny, and reasonable opportunities for public input should be provided. Information relating to all stages of the electoral cycle must be made available and accessible to citizens, including voters and candidates. Nonpartisan and partisan observers should be accredited to observe all phases of the election process and be permitted to comment publicly on the process free from unreasonable restriction.

Accountability in elections refers to the rights of citizens with respect to the conduct of other electoral stakeholders, including the government, election management bodies (EMBs), political parties, candidates and security forces. Elections are a key mechanism through which citizens hold their governments accountable, but there must also be accountability within election processes themselves. There must be effective remedies in place for violations of citizens’ election-related rights. There must also be administrative accountability for those organizing elections and those conducting governmental activities related to elections. In addition, there must be timely procedures to bring to account those who conduct criminal acts that affect electoral-related rights.

Elections are competitive when citizens have reasonable and equitable opportunities to compete to be elected to governmental offices. Political competition is a central component of elections that truly reflect the will of the people. The principle of competitiveness relates to aspects of the election throughout the electoral cycle. The legal framework must allow citizens to come together and register political parties to represent their interests, and provide access to spots on the ballot for parties and/or candidates. Parties and candidates must be able to campaign and voters to cast their ballots free from illegal influence, intimidation or violence.

We condemn the reported posting of soldiers to protect the former national chairman of APC M.Adams Oshiomole . This report if proven, amount to a gross abuse of power by the President because soldiers ought not to be posted as gate men . This is against the constitutional of the Nigerian Arm forces as can be seen from relevant provisions from section 217-220

Chapter 6. Part 3. Section 217. Establishment And Composition Of The Armed Force Of The Federation

1) There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an army, a navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.

2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of
(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression;
(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;
(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and
(d) performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

3) The composition of the officer corps an other ranks of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria.

Chapter 6. Part 3. Section 218. Command And Operational Use

(1) The powers of the President as the Commissioner-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.

(2) The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.

(3) The President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he think fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.

(4) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the regulation of
(a) the powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation; and
(b) the appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the armed forces of the Federation.

Chapter 6. Part 3. Section 219. Establishment Of Body To Ensure Federal Character Of Armed Forces

The National Assembly shall

(a) a) in giving effect to the functions specified in section 217 of thisConstitution;

b) with respect to the powers exercisable by the President under section 218 of this Constitution, by an Act, established a body which shall comprise such members as theNational Assembly may determine, and which shall have power to ensure that the composition of the armed forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in the section 217 of this Constitution.

Chapter 6. Part 3. Section 220. Compulsory Military Service

1) The Federation shall establish and maintain adequate facilities for carrying into effect any Act of the National Assembly providing for compulsory military training or military service for citizens of Nigeria.

2) Until an Act of the National Assembly is made in that behalf the President may maintain adequate facilities in any secondary or post-secondary educational institution in Nigeria for giving military training in any such institution which desires to have the training.

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