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Tag Archives: Political violence in Nigeia

Election Primaries through the Lenses of the Law

Compiled by Mr Lazarus M.A, Miss Jerum Uneje, R.A. Hwande Esq and S.P. Oobulu Esq

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Nigeria’s democracy is nascent and oscillates on a 4-year election cycle. As the present administration draws close to the end of its tenure, various political parties have conducted primaries across the Federation as stipulated by the legal framework regulating the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Political parties are legally saddled with the responsibilities of sponsoring their candidates’ campaigns for every political position for election.

The law perhaps is apt regarding the conduct of party primary elections regarding how a candidate can be elected. On this point, section 87 of the Electoral (Amendment) act, 2015 clearly lays down the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties which could either be by direct or indirect voting. The spirit of this section is in line with provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria which guaranteed fair hearing. By direct election, aspirants are given the opportunity of being voted for by all members of the party present at the election venue, while in indirect primaries aspirants are voted for by delegates (the number is usually determined by the position contested for). Whichever procedure (direct or indirect) a political party decides to adopt, the aspirant with the highest votes becomes the representative of the party.

Despite this injunction, the Media, Civil Society and other stakeholders report that the recently held primaries fell short of the provisions of the ELECTORAL (Amendment) ACT 2015. All the major Political parties failed to adhere strictly to the provisions of the subsisting legal framework as shown in a range of malpractices that shadowed the primaries across the country.

The APC (All Progressive Congress) adopted the indirect primary election procedure in Benue State. This system as earlier mentioned makes use of delegates who elect candidates on behalf of the party congress. However, it is alleged that the procedure was not strictly followed in practical reality. For instance, it was reported that during the House of Representatives election for Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency, violence ensued because of protests from delegates who alleged that they were being impersonated. Allegations of vote buying and tampering with the delegates list were also rife and thrown at 2 of the aspirants.

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The PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) which also adopted the indirect election procedure also failed to comply with the provision of section 87 of the ELECTORAL (Amendment) ACT 2015. It is alleged that the PDP primary elections at all levels and stages in Benue state were marred by violence, supplanting of candidates, vote buying and clear case of God-fatherism. In Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency for election for example, candidates were alleged to have been substituted.

From the above it is clear that the spirit and tenet of the above section of the Electoral Act was violated in its entirety. In any case, elections, be they at primary or general stage require strict compliance with the provision of the electoral act to ensure peaceful, orderly and smooth conduct. Any deviation from these provisions is punishable under the Act if found guilty by the court of law. For instance, section 122 of the Electoral Act provides for the offence of impersonation and criminalizing same. The punishment paragraph under sub section (1) of the above section stipulates that, if found guilty the person shall be liable for a maximum fine of 500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) or 12-months imprisonment.

 

Other alleged offences also took place. For example, it is widely reported that the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to conduct the required primary elections for the State House of Assembly; instead, party big wigs selected candidates of their choice for the elections over those desired by the electorate. This is a clear violation of the subsisting electoral law.

The above stated violations have their consequences in varying degrees and dimensions including the following:

The rights of both the delegates and aspirants who have the mandate to vote or be voted for have been fundamentally denied and breached by leaders of the various political parties.

Another serious consequence is the potency of derailing the forthcoming general elections and its credibility.

Another consequence is the breeding of grounds for violence and unrest in the political ecosystem.

Based on the foregoing therefore, the following are recommended:

  • That the Independent National Electoral Commission intensify its monitoring of Party Primaries, investigate allegations and sanction erring Parties accordingly.
  • Sensitize political parties and their officials on the need to adhere strictly to the provisions of the subsisting legal framework regulating the conduct of elections
  • The justice system actors including the Police, the Judiciary and other stakeholders should be sensitized on the need to closely monitor, investigate and sanction erring individuals and parties accordingly.
  • Power brokers should be told of the need to ensure peaceful elections by midwifing a free and fair process thereby providing a level playing field for all.

Leaders of thought such as the traditional and religious leaders should be encouraged to preach against the culture of vote-selling as it inhibits community development subsequently.

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OIL OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN RIVERS STATE

By Elvis-Wura Towolawi

Oil-rich Rivers State has been in the eye of raging political violence since campaign for the 2015 Election began. But this time, it appears the violence has been inordinately tilted towards All Progressive Congress (APC) at the state level. Although the state governor, Rotimi Amaechi is a caucus member of the party, the party has suffered several acts of violence against its campaign train and structure in the run-up to the General Elections.

On 17th February 2015, the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial rally in Okrika, Rivers state was scuttled by bomb blasts and gunshots. Now, it is important to note that it was the fourth time the APC campaign train was being attacked and prevented from holding its rally in Okrika, the First Lady – Dame Patience Jonathan’s hometown. Could the interruption and interposition be linked to the feud between the Presidency and Amaechi?

More so, Daily Trust February 18, 2015 reports that the APC in Rivers has been on the receiving of bomb attacks since the beginning of the 2015 campaign rallies; including the bombing of the APC secretariat at Abam Ama in Okrika on January 11, 2015; the party’s secretariat at Omoku in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area which was razed down; killing over 8 persons.

Truth be told, all these acts of violence in a bid to stifle the exercise of political choice by the people of rivers do not augur well for the cultivation of violence-free democratic culture. Humans everywhere by their mere existence have the right to exercise political choice; but when powers that be continue to make it impossible for the enjoyment of political freewill by the people, it is stoking the fire of violence which may rage and eat up the very power that fuels the fire. We’re not blind to the fraternal animosity that exists between Jonathan and Amaechi, but it should not be allowed to consume the peoples’ will. But how can the people exercise their will when certain area of the state is turned into a no-go-area for other parties?

We, therefore vehemently declaim the political persecution being meted out to the APC in Rivers state, and demand for investigations – culprits should be brought to book. Also, the security apparatus must discharge its core responsibility without any colour of partisanship – by ensuring that a conducive atmosphere is created for the free exercise of political choice in Rivers during the general elections; that our democracy may thrive.

 

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Elections

 

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