OrderPaperToday– The Kingsley Chinda-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has called foreign nations a d governments to join the United States of America (USA) to apply visa bans and travel restrictions on all electoral offenders, especially in the just concluded Bayelsa and Kogi elections.
The caucus also accused President Mohammadu Buhari of supporting undemocratic practices despite being a beneficiary of a transparent electoral process that brought him to power in 2015.
In a press statement signed by Chinda, the group said, “The comity of nations need to be concerned about Nigeria, for it also has the moral obligation and the responsibility to protect Nigerians from the flagrant abuses of human rights, including wanton killings of innocent people, often perpetrated by secretary agents.
“We are, therefore, calling on all nations that wish Nigeria well to join the USA and immediately consider, the imposition of visa bans and travel restrictions on all individuals within the Independent Electoral Commission, security agencies, and politicians of all political parties who are involved in any form of electoral offences and violence. This will prove to Nigerians that the world is standing with them, and deter future occurrences.”
alleged highhandedness by security operatives in the just concluded gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States respectively, which, according to them, led to wanton loss of lives and properties.
“Periodic elections are the cornerstone of democracy. They are periods of stock taking and represent the most important evidence of the power of the people under the social contract. These events give the electorate the opportunity to choose leaders, reject rulers and set agenda for the progress of the domain in question,” he stated.
Going further, he added, “One of the reasons Nigeria remained a pariah nation in the committee of nations under the Military was the fact that elections were either not conducted or were conducted without regard to rules.
“Indeed, so important has the electoral process become to the world that sanctions are imposed on countries which violate electoral laws and
elections are keenly observed by local and international observers routinely.
“The reasons for these are obvious: Firstly, countries with flawed electoral process usually descend into chaos and violence. Secondly, unfair electoral processes constitute the biggest form of corruption that distorts national development and advancement.”
The PDP lawmakers recalled that when the PDP took over power from the military government in 1999, it undertook far reaching electoral reforms and set out to reform the polity and the electoral process and made good its promise when the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan, introduced the electronic card reader, provided free room for the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and did not politicise the Nigerian Security agencies in pursuit of his political ambition.
“Unfortunately for Nigeria and Nigerians, the major beneficiary of the electoral reform, President Muhammadu Buhari used the greater part of his tenure to relentlessly work to undermine the credibility of the electoral process, reduce democratic space, destroy press freedom and as well destroy the little that is left of the integrity of the judiciary,” the group alleged.
“After the Supreme Court ruled that card readers are alien to the electoral law, the 8th National Assembly sought to correct that by empowering the INEC to use the card reader but for four times, President Buhari vetoed the electoral Act on flimsy and inexcusable grounds. As a matter of fact, even after the National Assembly conceded to all his suggestions, he still vetoed the bill.
“Little did we know that he had plans on returning himself to power willy nilly. We have now found out that we were wrong to have assumed that the abuse of power and desecration of the electoral system and our values will end with the Presidential elections. Now there is no reason why we should not seriously consider the wild allegations that the APC is rehearsing strategies for tenure elongation.
“Those who thought that because he had won second term, President Buhari would make casual and perfunctory gesture for electoral reforms have been thoroughly disgraced and disappointed by the unprecedented violation of the right and dignity of the peoples of Kogi and Bayelsa States. The wanton destruction of properties of the people as well as the denial of the right of the people to choose for themselves reflects the degeneration.”
The group noted that reports by field agents of the PDP in both Kogi and Bayelsa States, largely validated by the diplomatic and temperate views of both local and International observers, showed a “systematic abuse of the electoral process; card readers were largely ignored in areas that APC thought it had comparative advantage while subjecting areas believed to be the strongholds of the PDP to the use of smart readers, which usually malfunctioned or were deliberately calibrated to frustrate voters not to vote.
The PDP reps also alleged that in areas that the APC thought it did not have much support, it unleashed violence on the people.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have no hesitation in aligning ourselves with the conclusion of the Nigerian Civil Society situation room that the elections fall below the standards expected for a free, fair and credible elections. Kogi State election represents a major dent on Nigeria’s democratic process.
“We are, therefore, joining our voice to the clarion call across the land and even internationally, for the cancellation, in its entirety of the Kogi State elections conducted on November 16, 2019.
“The novel and indeed, criminal conduct of “community voting” in Bayelsa State, a situation where political entrepreneurs with the active connivance of security agencies force people to vote for preferred candidates offends the fundamental human rights of people to choice as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which all security agents, President Muhammadu Buhari and INEC officials unclose swore to protect.
“This by any stretch of imagination, cannot be regarded, as election. There is therefore no reason to allow the Bayelsa elections to stand. These elections make Nigeria a laughing stock!!
“Furthermore, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to take actions that will stop the slide of the country into anarchy! The growing sense of insecurity and injustice will definitely give birth to lawlessness that Nigeria can ill afford to joke with, especially as our unemployment figures keep soaring and the economic fortunes of the country keep dwindling. For a start, the President should forward an executive bill to the National Assembly, on electoral reforms, which must include the compulsory use of card readers in all polling units.
“Finally, we wish to condole the people who lost their family members in the last weeks show of shame and we call on Nigerian’s to stand fast on democracy and keep sacrificing for us to have a Nigeria that is free and prosperous”