Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said that the electoral body should have called the bluff of security chiefs and proceded with the February 14 presidential election.
In a statement, Falana also said that by saying that they would not provide security in aid of civil authorities pursuant to section 217 of the Constitution, “the security chiefs have committed the offence of mutiny contrary to section 52 of the Armed Forces Act.”
He further stated that by causing the election to be postponed, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Dasuki Sambo, and the security chiefs had staged a coup against the constitution.
“They are liable to be prosecuted for the grave offence of treason at the appropriate time,” he added.
He also said that INEC misconstrued the provisions of section 25 of the Electoral Act, when it relied on that provision to postpone the election.
He said: “The reliance on section 25 of the Electoral Act by the INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega, is totally misleading.”
According to him, the provision does not support the postponement of a general election in the entire country but “in the area or areas” where there is violence or actual threat of a breakdown of law and order.
He said: “Since the reason for the postponement of any election must be ‘cogent and verifiable’ it is crystal clear from the press conference addressed by Jega last night that INEC did not verify the bogus claim of the NSA and the security chiefs as required by the law.”
He also said that contrary to the mistaken belief of the INEC leadership, the armed forces had no role to play in the electoral process.
He cited a judgment delivered last week by a Federal High Court sitting Sokoto where the court declared illegal and unconstitutional the involvement of soldiers in election duties.
The judgment, he said, was binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria.
He described as blackmail, the letter written to INEC by the NSA to the President, to the effect that the armed forces could not provide security for the election because of the operations in the North-east region.
He said: “By writing directly to the INEC on the security situation in the North-east region the NSA usurped the functions of the National Security Council.
“Therefore, they (security chiefs) lack the constitutional power to make any authoritative pronouncement on the security of the nation. Even though the NSA is a member of the National Security Council, he cannot usurp the constitutional responsibilities of the body with the connivance of the service chiefs.”
Lagos APC: Postponement, a Threat to Democracy
The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described the decision of INEC to postpone the 2015 general election on the prompting of the PDP and Jonathan presidency as an affront to Nigerians and a serious threat to democracy, which Nigerians must rise up to protest. The party said the laughable excuse that a four-yearly general election is being postponed a week to the exercise on the pretext that the army is embarking on a six-week exercise against insurgents, is a cheap insult, an annoying blackmail on the sensibilities of Nigerians by a party and government that is desperate to remain in power when it is obvious that Nigerians don’t want it any longer.
In a release in Lagos, signed by the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Joe Igbokwe, the party said that it has become obvious to Nigerians that the PDP and the Goodluck Jonathan government are desperate to manipulate every institution so as to remain in power, adding that Nigerians must be more resolute in ensuring the party is banished “from our politics, if only to preserve our hallowed institutions from such abuse as the PDP is presently visiting on them.”
The statement further urged Nigerians to remain strong and steadfast in ensuring that the country is saved from the illegalities and outright impunity the PDP has made part of the country’s governance.
“We remember that what is turning out as a dangerous, cold blooded attack on democracy started as a hatchet call by President Jonathan’s National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in far away London for the postponement of an election fixed over two years ago and which time table had been religiously followed by all parties. We remember that Dasuki hinged his call on the position that most Nigerians had not gotten their permanent voters card.
“We recall that INEC not only showed its preparedness to conduct the election but went extra miles to demonstrate that contrary to Dasuki’s allegation on PVCs, it had not only distributed the voters’ cards but made provisions for all registered Nigerian voters’ to collect their voters card before Election Day
“We note that having failed to convince Nigerians on the reason why it wants the elections postponed, the PDP and Jonathan government with active connivance with the security forces embarked on a dangerous blackmail of INEC with the threat of withdrawing security from the conduct of the election, as a fictitious six week onslaught against the same militants the Jonathan government has conspiratorially tolerated as it makes mincemeat of innocent Nigerians for six years now, was fangled to start on the day of the presidential election!
“As childish as this reasoning was, it was a very dangerous coup against democracy hatched by the top echelon of the PDP and Jonathan government and what better way to expose the intrigues behind this plot than that presidential spokesmen and errand boys were authoritatively sending out releases that the election slated for February had been postponed for six weeks, two days before the so-called consultative engagements INEC purportedly claimed led to this postponement?
“Lagos APC agrees with a majority of Nigerians that the postponement of the election is an illegal ambush on democracy and follows an extensive plot by Jonathan and PDP to cling to power by all means when they have lost favour with Nigerians.
“Lagos APC urges its members, supporters to be vigilant as the PDP tries further tricks to ensure that the will of the Nigerian people are sacrificed and suppressed for the interests of a corrupt and failed Jonathan government and the PDP. We urge Nigerians to remain firm and more resolute to end this Jonathan/PDP regime and its relentless assault on not only the country’s treasury but also all the sacred institutions of democracy.
UPP Chiefs Condemn Polls Postponement
The presidential candidate of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie has described as unfortunate and regrettable the decision of INEC to postpone the general election.
“This decision is regrettable in the light of the fact that it was reached as a result of tremendous pressure the government and its officials and agents mounted on INEC, including organised and apparently sponsored calls for the resignation of Professor Jega.
“As a responsible party with patriotic leadership, the UPP calls on its supporters to accept this development in good faith and stay calm and peaceful.
“We also call on our supporters to remain vigilant, however. The recent developments have demonstrated that the notion of an independent electoral agency is a mirage. The credibility of INEC and its chairman has suffered and the UPP suspects that this postponement is only the first in a series of intrigues to come,” he said.