DAILY POST reports that Falana spoke on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ meeting on partnership for monitoring, documenting, reporting and prosecuting vote trading during the 2019 polls, which held at the YarAdua centre in Abuja
He said that while electoral laws with stringent provisions exist in the country, the courts have repeatedly held that until a direct nexus is established between the winners of elections and those who took money from either their agents or political parties, there is nothing that could be done to convict suspected vote-buyers (political parties and candidates).
Using the case of Falae Vs Obasanjo in 1999 to buttress his point, Falana said: “the Court of Appeal held that even though there was evidence that money and bags of rice and salt were allegedly distributed by the PDP, there was no evidence to prove that the beneficiary of inducement (Obasanjo) directed the party to distribute any form of gift for the election. Since then it has always been difficult to prove that the beneficiaries of inducement directly gave instructions for inducement.
“However, by virtue of section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), any form of inducement, be it money, gifts or even promises, is a serious criminal offence. But since 1999 nobody has been prosecuted for inducement yet we witness inducements during elections.
“It has been general agreed that to stop electoral offences and collusion between electoral offenders and the government, either at the federal or state level, we should have an electoral offences tribunal that deals with electoral offenders. But, very conveniently, the PDP and the APC have not shown any interest in establishing electoral offences tribunal. That is why we have continued to witness electoral offences.”
The Senior lawyer further took a swipe at the civil society for narrowing its engagements against vote-trading to the electorates who sell their ballots for stipends.
He said; “You have left out those who spend money on campaign beyond the stipulation of the electoral act; you have left out those who are collecting money or been offered money for support; you have left out parties who give people money to decamp; You have left out money been given to the media to manipulate stories and make phoney and funny projections.
“We have left out money spent on pastors and imams to pay for candidates to win elections. In the 2015 elections, it was alleged that some ‘spiritual’ consultants collected about N5bn. We have also left out money spent on unemployed people to attend rallies and give the impression that some parties are popular.
“What of money spent on thugs to attack political opponents or disrupt rallies? I am sure you saw one in Ogun state where the President and Vice-president had to be shielded from those who were hurling stones. What of the huge money spent on bribing electoral officers and security personnel? That is why i am saying we are very partial in our discussions.”
CDHR Demands Factors That Led Postponement Of Elections
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has demanded an investigation into the factors that led to the postponement of the elections.
The group also expressed disappointment with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the postponement of the elections.
INEC had announced the postponement of the elections earlier on Saturday by one week.
A statement by Malachy Ugwummadu, the CDHR President, noted that the postponement has cast “serious shadow on the integrity of the commission” to conduct credible elections.
The statement read: “The CDHR notes with utter disappointment the postponement of the 2019 general elections on account of general poor logistics. This development, just hours before the elections, raises so many questions as to the capacity of INEC to conveniently discharge on their mandate. The Presidential and National Assembly elections were postponed to February 23, 2019 while the Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections were postponed to March 9, 2019.
“This postponement has cast serious shadow on the credibility and integrity of the entire election process. As a contest, this unfortunate development has unwittingly created fertile grounds for competing political parties to discredit the process. International and local observers have mobilized at high costs and resources and are now demobilized. The entire economy and education sector in particular suffered the worst hit having been shut down for the period under review.
“By Section 15(a) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), INEC is vested with global powers and vires to organize, undertake and supervise all elections. Under Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2011 the same INEC drawing from the broad powers to organize and conduct elections can postpone an election earlier than scheduled but for the restricted reasons of insecurity, natural disaster or emergency. It is expected that concerns of logistics may not be profound enough to ground suspension of general elections over which huge budgetary allocations have been approved and received.
“Recall that both in 2011 and 2015 when there were such postponements the context are different from what we have just witnessed in the instant case where INEC consistently reassured the nation that the elections will hold with no possibility of postponement. On this score alone, INEC have not been truthful with the people since all the variables founding the bases of earlier assurances could not have changed in less than four hours to the election. The President, though a contestant, had in a national broadcast addressed the public on the scheduled election for today 16 February 2019. INEC itself has over a year ago released a comprehensive timetable of this election.
“In 2015 it was the executive through the National Security Advisor to then President Goodluck Jonathan and after due consultations with National Council of States and all stakeholders announced the postponement. What is more? We appreciate that at all times material to the postponement, the election materials including sensitive materials have been dispatched and a lot more already at their relevant locations. What happens to those materials? To what extent can the integrity of those materials already dispatched be guaranteed?
“In blaming INEC whose responsibility it is to generally organize the election, it should be recalled that it got caught in the interplay of power when the National Assembly foot-dragged on the consideration and approval of INEC budgetary allocation leaving them with serious time constraints in sourcing and procuring election materials. No doubt INEC trudged on as though all was well and even issued timetable and guidelines based on those assurances.”
The CDHR went on to make five demands: “An unequivocal apology to the Nigerian people and representatives of international communities that are here in the country; clear explanation from INEC as to the circumstance and exact reason why the election was postponed; a serious and thorough inquiry by an independent panel to ascertain what happened; appropriate sanction to relevant persons who failed in their responsibility and consequently took this decision in order to serve as a deterrent; consideration for decentralization and unbundling of INEC along the multifaceted responsibilities of that commission have now become imperative.”
Nigeria elections: Gani Adams blows hot over INEC postponement
He, however, warned the electoral umpire not to give further excuses, noting that already, the shift had a huge implication on the integrity of Nigeria, both in Africa and across the world.
Adams, in a statement he signed on Saturday, stated shift has raised questions about its level of preparedness.
He said: “Report of the non availability of sensitive and non sensitive election materials in about 15 states has raised questions on the credibility and level of preparedness of the electoral body, and the leadership of INEC should remember the inglorious story of the June 12 annulment that eventually draw the nation backward.
“I want to say that the one week window occasioned by the postponement will determine a lot of things about the Nigerian future, and there should be no inconclusive election, no excuse, either head or tail election must hold.
“Every plan is as good as its implementation. Ordinarily, the timing for the postponement is wrong, it should have come at least, two weeks before the election, not two hours to the day of election. And like every other Nigerians that have been reacting, I want to say it categorically, that it is sad that the electoral umpire had to shift the date of the election barely a few hours into the election.
“The biggest corruption is to rig an election. It is also frustrating that Nigerians gave up their livelihood. Businesses are put on hold across the country and Nigerians had to go through the same pain stocking assorted food stuffs, and staying at home just for them to cast their votes.
“But as a Nigerian who believe in peace and the unity of the country, I urge the INEC to prepare well and put its house in order for it to succeed in its duty to conduct free, fair and credible elections”, he said.
Nigeria elections 2019: How NYSC Corps members reacted to postponement of polls
DAILY POST had reported that INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, while addressing reporters at the press centre of the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital, said that the polls would not go on as planned due to some challenges encountered by the commission.
He explained that the decision to postpone the polls followed a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operational plans put in place for the exercise.
Some of the corps members, who served as INEC Ad-hoc staff, spoke to NAN in separate interviews in Kabba that they were disappointed.
Chika Ezeogu, a corps member, who was assigned to a Polling Unit in a remote village in Kabba/Bunu LGA, told NAN that the postponement came very late and few hours to the election.
“We had already received elections’ materials and proceeded to our various wards.
“We were very surprised when we received information on the postponement. It was not really good after going through a lot of stress,’’ Ezeogu said.
A male corps member, who spoke to NAN on conditions of anonymity, said he was shocked about the news as he never expected such to happen few hours to election.
He urged the INEC and the Federal Government to ensure effective planning in the future.
Another male corps member, who also spoke on conditions of anonymity, said that he had arranged the election materials at the polling unit when they received a message on the postponement.
“My polling unit is in a remote village with poor network, and we couldn’t access network until after 7 a.m.
“We had already arranged election materials waiting for 8 a.m to begin accreditation and voting, when we suddenly received the message.
“We have pledged our loyalty to Nigeria to serve our motherland and we don’t have a choice,’’ he said.
Another corps member said: “I am just advising our leaders to be proactive in whatsoever they do to avoid a reoccurrence of such.”
Meanwhile, the Assistant Director, Public Relations, NYSC, Mr Adedapo Tayo, commended the corps members for their resilience, cool headedness, which were great virtues that would pave way for them in future.
Tayo, who is the NYSC Monitoring Officer for 2019 elections in Kabba, Mopamuro, Yagba East, and West LGAs, commended the corps members’ commitment to the service of their motherland.
“The corps members were trained and sensitised to how to conduct themselves during the elections.
“They accepted the postponement when it came, and went back to their various posts.
“So, we praise the DG NYSC, for the intensive sensitisation of corps members, to ensure they conduct themselves well,’’ Tayo said.
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