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Published On: Thu, May 8th, 2014

Electoral offences: Ex-Gov. Osunbor challenges NHRC on trial

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By Umar Muhammad Puma

Former Edo state governor, Prof. Osahor Osunbor, has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to make public the alleged electoral offences for which it has recommended his prosecution to the Attorney General of the Federation.

Reacting to a report in a national daily with the caption “Rights Commission Asks AGF to Prosecute Osunbor, Olafemi, Ayooka Others for Electoral Offences” Osunbor accused the Commission of recklessness and acting out a script to tarnish his image.

According to the ex-governor, “On Monday 21 April 2014, I was shocked to read a story in This day and the Nation newspaper of the same date published a similar story with the title “Rights Commission seeks trial of ex-INEC Chief Ayoka, ex-Governor Osunbor”. The Nation followed up on Monday 28 April 2014 with an Editorial urging the AGF to speedily carry out my prosecution.

“I wrote a letter dated 22 April 2014, addressed to Prof Bem Angwe, Executive Secretary to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to verify the authenticity of the newspaper reports.

“I gave the Commission one week within which to respond to my enquiry. A copy of the letter was acknowledged upon delivery. One week has now elapsed and I have not received any reply from the Commission neither has the Commission issued any denial of the reports and recommendation to the AGF ascribed to it.

“As I said before in my letter, I demanded to know what specific offence or offences I committed and they have failed or refused to answer. I am therefore left with no option than to conclude that the Commission acted recklessly or mischievously to tarnish my name and defame my character. It may even be that they are acting out a script”, he alleged.

Osunbor affirmed that he has never committed any “criminal offence, whether an electoral offence or any other offence. I have never been invited or summoned by the police or any other law enforcement agency. I have never been investigated or charged with any criminal offence not even by the NHRC. All my life, I have conducted myself in an upright manner”.

He noted that “I participated as a candidate in the Governorship election in Edo State in 2007 but I did not commit any offence. The petition challenging the election did not accuse me of committing any electoral offence. The reliefs sought by the petitioners and the orders granted by the courts did not include a finding against me for the commission of any offence.

“The Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal decisions on the case contain no indictment against me for the commission of any offence. Surprisingly, it is the Human Rights Commission in Nigeria that has for the first time in my life falsely accused me of and “indicted” me for an offence I did not commit”.

According to him, “The NHRC must tell the world what offence or offences ex-Governor Osunbor committed to warrant its recommendation to the AGF for his prosecution. It would be a monumental tragedy for Nigeria if our Human Rights Commission degenerates into and becomes a willing tool for the violation of the human rights of law-abiding citizens. We all owe it a duty to ensure that the NHRC does not become a behemoth that tramples with impunity on the rights of citizens”, he said.

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