2019 election negates spirit of June 12 — Democracy Vanguard
As the nation celebrates Democracy Day today in honour of the Presidential candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party and winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, a group, Democracy Vanguard of Nigerians in Diaspora have said events of the 2019 general election, particularly the presidential election were a threat to constitutional democracy.
In a statement signed by President of the group, Timothy A. Sule, they noted that unlike the June 12, 1993 election which was a national mandate and reflected the wishes of the electorate, the February 23 and the March 9 elections were marred by violence, voters suppression and alteration of figures with the alleged connivance of security forces and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).
” Events of the 2019 general election, particularly the Presidential election, with the use of the military and other apparatus of force, by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to suppress free ballot, unleash violence on voters and coerce the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to alter results already delivered at the polling units, portend the termination of our constitutional democratic order unless efforts are concerted to stem the tide.
“The Presidential election was characterized by hounding, killing, wanton arrests, abductions and illegal detention of opposition figures, threats of violence against members of the international global democratic institutions working for peaceful and transparent polls, allocation of fictitious votes for President Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and brazen attempt to foist an illegitimate rulership on our nation.
“The just concluded March 9, 2019 governorship and state assembly elections were also stamped by state backed intimidation, killing, arrest and illegal detention of opposition figures and use of security operatives to suppress Nigerians, in a bid to foist a one-party state and secure legitimacy for the widely rejected Presidential election results. Ladies and gentlemen, what has happened in Nigeria between February 23 and March 9 is akin to the perfection of a military coup and subjugation of the will of the people by a vetoed few.”
The Democracy Vanguard of Nigeria in Diaspora further argued that other autonomous arms of government like the judiciary and the legislature have since been muzzled by the President Muhammadu Buhari and submitted that “Nigerian Federal Government, under President Buhari’s watch, has gradually worked towards total annihilation of our democracy.”
It further called on the international community, particularly the United States, which it described as the beacon of Democracy not to keep “silent in the face of the assaults and regression in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The statement further read in part:”As you may be aware, in the last three years, there has been a calculated relegation of our nation’s constitution and extant laws; unrelenting attack on all our democratic institutions, particularly the National Assembly and the Judiciary, disobedience to court orders, clamp down on the media and members of the Civil Society Organisation and a slide towards totalitarianism, with the Nigerian Federal Government, systematically working to silence legitimate dissent. Governance in our nation is gradually regressing to the 1984 era, when citizens were wantonly arrested, locked up and dehumanized with Military decrees for expressing opinion considered to be contrary to that of those in power.”
“The report of international bodies, including the United States Department of States 2017 Country Report on Human Rights detailed human rights abuse in Nigeria to include extrajudicial and arbitrary killings; disappearances and arbitrary detentions; torture, particularly in detention facilities, including sexual exploitation and abuse; use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property; civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy evidence; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizen’s privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement among others.
“Ladies and gentlemen, before the general elections, the Nigerian Federal Government, under President Buhari’s watch, has gradually worked towards total annihilation of our democracy. You will recall how in August 7th 2018, security operatives invaded our National Assembly and disrupted legislative activities in the bid to execute a forceful removal of the elected leadership of the Senate.
This is in addition to constant harassment of federal lawmakers and besiegement of the official residents of the leaders of the Senate by security operatives.
“Even the Judiciary has not been spared. In January this year, Executive arm jettisoned the constitutional principle of separation of powers to assault the judiciary leading to the suspension and forcefully removal of a sitting Chief Justice of Nigeria. It is very instructive to convey to you that, today, act of nepotism, injustice and deliberate sectional marginalisation by the Federal Government have so divided our nation along primordial fault lines that our corporate existence as a nation is heavily threatened. The rigging of the February 23 Presidential election and detestation towards having an illegitimate administration foisted to preside over the affairs of our nation pitches the citizenry against the establishment.
“My fellow Nigerians and the international community, in this correspondence, I urge you to reflect on the trust and craving by Nigerians that the United States, as the beacon of Democracy in the world must not be silent in the face of the assaults and regression in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“As a country of over 200 million people, any humanitarian situation will not only spill over to other countries in the African sub-region but also bear pressure on the outside world. We members of Democracy Vanguard of Nigeria in diaspora USA calls for sincere prayers for our great country Nigeria.
“We believe vehemently that we shall overcome. Nigeria shall overcome and our democracy shall thrive.”