FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark has expressed support for the decision by the United Kingdom to ban and also seize overseas assets of anyone guilty of electoral violence ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections today and October 19 this year. He said this would go a long way to reduce electoral offences and malpractices in Nigeria.
In a statement yesterday, Chief Clark also pleaded with the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union to go a step further and name election offenders as well as withdraw their visa privileges. He said if after sixty years of our independence our elections cannot be free and fair, “then we have nothing to be proud of”.
His words: “I wish to congratulate the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) on their determination to translate into action, their often pleaded slogan of “Free, Fair, Credible and non-Violent Elections”, even though perpetrators of these electoral offences would normally dub the actions of the foreign countries as interference into our internal affairs. But we often allow them send their citizens and organisations as election observers to watch or witness our elections at all times.
“Apart from that, elections in all democratic country have become a global issue. There is nothing wrong in the actions of these foreign countries because it will, at least, go a long way to reduce electoral offences and malpractices in Nigeria, particularly amongst those whose names will be published and who will eventually be affected by this Visa ban. Not only will such persons be ashamed to parade themselves in future elections as some of them are doing today in the Edo State Gubernatorial Elections, it will also serve as a deterrent to others thereby saving lives and property.
“This is why I join other Nigerians in requesting these foreign nations to go a step further by naming the offenders. These foreign nations have nothing to lose, or be afraid of. Majority of Nigerians are eager and want these names to be published.
“Despite the legal approach by the judiciary, with the violence, shootings, arson etc., which characterised the last Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections, it was very clear to most Nigerians that the elections held in the State were not free and fair. Nigerians have not forgotten how a house wife and mother, was burnt alive in her house.
“The people of Kogi State seem to have forgotten the role played by security agencies which was anything but satisfactory, particularly when the Inspector General of Police, boasted that he had posted sufficient Policemen to maintain law and order, before, during and after the elections. It was observed that most of the security men behaved as onlookers and seemed powerless. Therefore one is forced to ask if the response of the Kogi State Government to the statement of sanctioning election offenders by the foreign countries is an action of the guilty being afraid.
“One expects that when the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes a statement or proclamation that elections should be free, fair and credible, the security agencies will religiously behave and ensure that such directive is carried out. But because of the political interest of some corrupt politicians, particularly those who want to be Governors at all cost, and the corruption of some of the security personnel, the President’s proclamation or statement is never obeyed. Rather, it seems that these security personnel would take orders from the politicians, instead of obeying the Commander –in- Chief. It is very sad.
“That is why I have on several occasions advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the role played in India with a population of over one billion and made up of various tribes and religions, much more than what we have in Nigeria In India during preparation for elections, the Police meet the head of the Electoral Commission to determine the type and number of Police Officers required for the elections and the number of Policemen needed would definitely be deployed, and they will be under the control of the Electoral Commission. The Commission will train the Police Officers, pay their allowances; the Officers will be the responsibility of the Commission and during that period they will take instructions from the Commission, and their loyalty will be with the Electoral Commission.