Masari backs election tribunal for quick dispensation of cases
KATSINA State Governor, Aminu Masari, has thrown his weight behind the establishment of an Electoral Offences Tribunal for the quick dispensation of election disputes.
The Federal Executive Council, (FEC), had on Wednesday, approved the Electoral Offences Commission BIll (2018) which will be forwarded to the National Assembly for passage into law.
According to Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the bill when enacted into law, will ensure speedy resolution of pre-election matters and election disputes, impose stiffer penalties on electoral offenders, as well as enhance the independence of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), such that it is not subject to the directives or control of any authority.
Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, the Governor observed that the prosecution of election cases was too slow and often concluded when parties would have forgotten about the offences.
He recalled that an attempt had been made in the past to have a similar body that would bring sanity to the electoral system.
He said the move to have the commission was a welcome development which would greatly reduce litigation time on election cases.
He said, “If I could remember during the Uwais committee, we were heading some sub-committees of former legislators, former and serving governors and we made presentation and part of our recommendations was that apart from the independence of the electoral body, to establish this tribunal so that at least, this tribunal will help in sanitising the electoral process, the legal system as at today is prolonged and takes time and cases are decided when you have even forgotten about your offence and I think this will help to sanitise and make the elections more credible.”
The Governor dismissed fears over the controversy surrounding the mode of primaries of the ruling All Progressive Congress Congress (APC), saying that the constitution of the party provides for both direct and indirect primaries.
ALSO READ: 2019: Don’t allow PDP return to power, Buhari tells Nigerians
He said the issue should not, therefore, be a cause for concern as states are at liberty to adopt the one that suits them.
Masari stated, “It (direct or indirect primary) is not a hot cake. First of all, let me say from all the states that we have read and heard, Lagos, Kano and Niger are the only States that have opted for direct primaries in a country of 36 states plus FCT.
“I think it shouldn’t be a contentious issue. In fact, the constitution of the party is very clear. There is nothing contentious in this.
“The constitution of the party recognises direct, consensus and indirect primaries. So, whichever method is adopted, nobody is breaching the constitution of the party. So, what is the big deal about it?”
The governor expressed confidence that the people of Katsina State will vote overwhelmingly again for President Buhari to return to office next year.
He said, “The people of Katsina are 100% behind President Buhari and they will continue to support him even after the elections of 2019.
“We expect, based on figures coming out of the registered voters, to give him nothing less than 70 to 80%.
“We don’t have the figures now because they have completed additional registration. We are not talking about the last exercise that led to the election of 2015 and in 2015, he got almost 1.5 million votes from Katsina State.
“So, we expect, by 2019, we will be able to give him additional 1 million, making it not less than 2.5 million votes.”