Sunday, March 29, 2015

DON’T REPEAT JUNE 12 DEBACLE



29th March, 2015
PRESS RELEASE:
DON’T REPEAT JUNE 12 DEBACLE

Nigerians trooped out in their thousands yesterday to cast their votes in the 2015 presidential and national assembly elections. They stood patiently on the queues in spite of the technical challenges. Both the European Union and the United Nations have congratulated the country for successfully conducting the exercise. 
        
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) commends Nigerian citizens for manifesting high level of patriotism by coming out en masse to exercise their franchise.

While the results of the elections are being awaited, we deem it germane to remind the candidates of their earlier pledges to accept the results of a free and fair election. We also remind them of the two peace accords to which they appended their signatures. We therefore urge them to continuously appeal to their supporters to avoid violence before and after the announcement of the results.

In this regard, MURIC charges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to treat the results with dispatch. While there is need to be meticulous in order to avoid fatal errors, INEC is advised to avoid unnecessary delay because this is capable of generating tension.

In the same vein, we call on the Federal Government (FG) and the Nigerian security agencies to fully respect INEC’s independence. Breathing down INEC’s neck or arm-twisting it at this crucial period should not be contemplated.

We call FG’s attention to the June 12 debacle. The June 12, 1993 general election which was widely believed to have been won by Chief M. K. O. Abiola was the most peaceful, most free and most fair in the annals of Nigeria’s history. 

Yet the results were most criminally and callously annulled by the then military government.
We all know what followed. There was widespread civil disobedience. Sanctions were imposed on Nigeria by Western powers. Life became unbearable and we are yet to fully recover from its impact 22 years later.  

Nigeria must not repeat the June 12 conundrum.  
MURIC therefore strongly appeals to the stakeholders to let INEC do its work without let or hindrance. General Muhammadu Buhari can become Nigeria’s greatest hero and patriot nulli secundus by accepting defeat if the ruling party wins a free and fair election.

By the same token, the incumbent President Jonathan can make history by being the first democratically elected Nigerian president to respect what Rousseau called the General Will by handing over to the opposition party which won at elections.

This will save Nigeria, nay, the West African sub-region, the African continent and the whole world a lot of time, energy and lives. We therefore appeal that INEC should be allowed to announce the true results. The winner must be humble in victory. For the sake of Nigeria, other contestants should hasten to congratulate him and follow this up by dousing tension among their followers.  

MURIC reminds all the candidates to tread softly. Political power is ephemeral. Everlasting power belongs to Almighty Allah. The Glorious Qur’an affirms that to Allah alone belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth (Qur’an 3:180). He gives power to whom He wishes and He removes whoever He wishes from power; He gives honour to whom He wills and disgrace to whom He wills (Qur’an 3:26).  

Finally, we advocate a transparent, smooth and peaceful transition. Annulling the results of the elections will definitely bring back the ghost of June 12. An interim national government is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional. Declaring a state of emergency, a military intervention or handing over to the military is not only anachronistic but also an open invitation to anarchy. The way forward, the path of honour, is to allow INEC to announce the true results.  

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)



Friday, March 27, 2015

ARREST OF OPPOSITION: DENT ON FREE & FAIR ELECTIONS




28th March, 2015
PRESS RELEASE:
ARREST OF OPPOSITION: DENT ON FREE & FAIR ELECTIONS

There is growing concern regarding the conduct of Nigeria’s 2015 general elections as allegations of arrest and harassment of leaders and members of the main opposition party rent the air.       

In spite of two separate Abuja Peace Accords signed earlier by President Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), the Kaduna state Police Command on Friday (a day before the presidential election) summoned the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Nasir El-Rufai, to report for questioning in their offices. Summoned to appear along with Mr. El-Rufai are Suleiman Hunkuyi, the party’s senatorial candidate for Kaduna North and Lawal Yakawada, Chairman of the party campaign council in the state.

Among those in police custody are the APC agent at the Port Harcourt office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Emma Edeeyah, four leaders of the party in Akoko Edo 1 of Edo State and an APC member of the House of Representatives from Ondo State, Hon. Eniolorunda Omosule. Equally unnerving is the alleged attempt by plain clothes soldiers to arrest the State Youth Leader of APC in Edo State, Osakpamwan Eriyo.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) finds the above reports very distasteful. Harassment, intimidation and coercion of the opposition at this crucial period are capable of causing panic and igniting unrest. Eligible voters may also be scared away thereby defeating both the letter and spirit of one-man-one-vote. Such actions stand in contradistinction to the peace accords entered into by the political parties.

The implication here is that Nigerian security agencies are compromising. They are undermining a free, fair and peaceful election. There is no gainsaying the fact that summoning candidates and party leaders on the eve of elections can be destabilizing. It can also cause ‘costly’ distraction. It gives the ruling party undue advantage. It is the root of rigging. This is highly unethical of the security agencies. It is quite unhealthy for our nascent democracy for the security agencies to be seen deliberately stunting the growth of democracy. 

MURIC has the following posers for the Inspector General of Police: must police summons and arrests come 24 hours to election? Why are all the summons and arrests targeted only at leaders and members of the main opposition? Is the IG aware that the Nigerian Police can provoke the electorate through unethical and openly partisan acts?

Is the IG aware that undue and unprovoked hostility towards the opposition is tantamount to favouritism towards the ruling party? Can these actions of the Nigerian Police stand the test of international best practices among the police during election periods?  

MURIC affirms that there is no difference between hate speech and partisanship on the part of umpires. Both provoke people to engage in violent acts. It is paradoxical that whereas security agencies should prevent the breakdown of law and order, the Nigerian security agencies are indirectly aiding and abetting anarchy. 

We demand the immediate release of all political detainees of the last 48 hours. We also charge the IG to use his good offices to stop further intimidation and arrest of political opponents. The International Criminal Court is advised to beam its searchlight for culprits of election violence on Nigerian security agencies.

In view of the fact that any outbreak of crisis in Nigeria and its attendant humanitarian calamity is bound to affect the rest of the world, we invite Nigeria’s partners in democratic practices like the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations to conduct independent investigations into the role of Nigerian security agencies in the 2015 general elections. Those indicted should be tried at the Hagues. This will help in checking the excesses of overzealous security officials in future elections. It is high time Nigerian security agencies realized that the world is now a global village and that professionalism is the key to growth.

In conclusion, MURIC reminds President Goodluck Jonathan that coercing the opposition not only constitutes an indelible dent on a free and fair election, it also poses a potent threat to peaceful elections. We appeal to Nigerians to ignore all sorts of provocations and to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the elections. We cannot afford to turn into cannibals and arsonists at this crucial time. We urge both Christian and Muslim leaders and clerics to prevail on their followers on the need to eschew violence in all its ramifications.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

2015 POLLS: FOR NIGERIA, NOT FOR PARTY



27th March, 2015

PRESS RELEASE:
2015 POLLS: FOR NIGERIA, NOT FOR PARTY

Nigerians go to the polling booths tomorrow Saturday, 28th March, 2015, with excitement mixed with trepidation. This is because the political campaigns and rallies have been characterized by hate speeches, blackmail, calumny, threat, violence and even murder.

We observe that the political class have thrown caution to the winds in the past three months and allowed primordial sentiment to rule their emotion. Nigeria’s political culture as manifested in the preparations for the 2015 poll cannot be described as chaste and civilized.

The concomitant ‘migration’ of Nigerians in large numbers from their workplaces to their states of origin as D-Day approaches merely helps to confirm the depth of the citizens’ fear and their total lack of confidence in the system. The allegations and counter allegations between the ruling party and the main opposition have also added fuel to the conflagration. Even at the eleventh hour, there are still accusations concerning plots to rig the election and suspicion about an interim national government or a military coup.

With this at the back of our minds, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hereby express huge disappointment in the attitude of Nigeria’s leaders and some of the politicians. The only institution which we find deserving commendation is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Though it found itself in an entirely hostile environment, it has remained committed to professionalism and impartiality.

MURIC invites politicians to approach tomorrow’s election with a high sense of integrity and patriotism. Only thus can they shun the temptation to rig either for the purpose of perpetuating themselves in power or to wrestle power from the incumbent at all cost. We also urge politicians to avoid making wild, unsubstantiated and dangerous speculations before the results are officially announced by INEC. We appeal to Nigerian youths to distance themselves from politically motivated acts of violence.

We invite the security agencies to emulate the principled stand of INEC and avoid compromising their integrity. Only thus can they gain the respect of the citizens and the outside world in a post-election Nigeria. We remind them that not only are international election observers watching their behaviour, the floodlight of the whole world is now beamed on our country. They should not turn Nigeria into a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

The rainbow behind the clouds is the joint statement issued by President Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in which they both agreed to accept the results of the election as declared by INEC. We urge all candidates to accept results in good faith.

No party must be seen as winning or losing. There shall be no victor, no vanquished. Nigeria must be the sole winner. Tomorrow’s election is designed to move our dear country forward. It is about Nigeria, not any political party.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)