By Musa Adamu
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to interfere in the forthcoming Edo State governorship election
The rights group made the plea in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko.
The group said it was completely out of order for President Muhammadu Buhari to be seen as extremely concerned about the outcome of a state election when he is holding office on behalf of the entirety of Nigerians and not the President of All Progressives Congress.
The group reminded Buhari that he swore an Oath of office and is expected to be above board and must not be seen actively promoting a one-sided agenda.
HURIWA urged the President to be the champion of a pan Nigerian Agenda and ensure that there is electoral integrity, transparency and accountability.
“We have observed with shock and disappointment that the campaign council set up by the ALL progressively Congress headed by the governor of Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje flew into Benin, the Edo State capital on a presidential jet belonging to all of Nigeria. If this trending news report is anything to go by, then we absolutely condemn this reckless display of political rascality and flagrant abuse of power.
“We, in HURIWA view this naked show of reckless executive power manifested in the illegal use of the people’s public jet for a partisan affair such as conveying the campaign team of the APC to Benin City as reported which we believe is meant to tell the electoral umpire that the President’s mind is that the electoral process be manipulated in favour of the party that controls presidential power which incidentally is the appointing authority of the INEC.
”We hereby warn INEC to ensure that the governorship poll is free, fair, transparent and peaceful. INEC must not be intimidated by either the federally controlled security forces or should they out of intimidation already displayed by the fact that the presidential jet was deployed to convey the campaign team of APC, to then manipulate the electoral process. We want to caution INEC that any attempt to rig the poll may not augur well for the stability of Nigeria.
“We appeal to both the PDP and the APC as well as other political players participating in the poll to see the election as an opportunity for the good people of Edo State to democratically elect their freely chosen Governor.
“There must be no interference from external persons be they governors, or President or former presidents.
“INEC has failed on many occasions to deliver free and fair elections; Nigerians are waiting to see if the Edo election will be a great opportunity for the morally deprived INEC to redeem themselves from past misdeeds.
“We ask the security forces to stay objective and only work for the public good and not be used as agents by their commander in Chief to undermine the will of the Nigerians people.
”HURIWA wants the Edo State governorship poll to be a credible election. As stated by experts, we agree that inclusive elections provide equal opportunities for all eligible citizens to participate as voters in selecting their representatives and as candidates for election to government. This right to participate is a broad concept and can only be subject to reasonable restrictions that are provided by law. Authorities must take steps to assess and remove any barriers to the participation of all citizens.
“Elections are transparent when each step is open to scrutiny, and stakeholders can independently verify whether the process is conducted honestly and accurately.
“Parties and candidates must be able to campaign and voters to cast their ballots free from illegal influence, intimidation or violence.
“We condemn the reported posting of soldiers to protect the former national chairman of APC M.Adams Oshiomole. This report if proven amounts to gross abuse of power by the President because soldiers ought not to be posted as gatemen. This is against the constitution of the Nigerian Arm forces as can be seen from relevant provisions from section 217-220.”