Posted by News Express | 1 February 2019 | 579 times
A prominent civil rights group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop President Muhammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors and ministers from illegally deploying public fund to run electoral campaigns.
HURIWA said on Friday that if after 72 hours the electoral umpire fails to take verifiable and transparent step to stop the abuses of the extant Electoral Act, it will institute litigation to compel it to do same.
National Coordinator of the non-governmental organisation, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, in a statement, averred that “the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) seeks to provide for a fair playing ground for all political parties and their candidates.”
It noted that the electoral act discourages and proscribes such circumstance that gives “peculiar advantage” to one political party or candidate over another.
“Hence, right from the outset, Section 82 forbids INEC from registering symbols which portray the Coat of Arms of the Federation, the Coat of Arms of any other country or a device or emblem which in the opinion of the INEC is normally associated with the official acts of Government, any of the Armed Forces of the Federation of Nigeria or the Nigeria Police Force or other uniformed service, the regalia of a chief, any tribe or ethnic group, any religion or culture,” HURIWA stated.
It further noted that the Electoral Act limits the amount of spending for candidates of political parties into various elective positions as stipulated in Section 90 of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that “masquerade funds” (or anonymous donations) are not acceptable as donations likewise financial assistance from foreign sources.
“The guiding provision of the Electoral Act as regards the use of public resources is in Section 100. Section 100(1) makes an omnibus provision for campaign to be within the rules and regulation provided by the INEC.
“More specifically and directly, however, section 100(2) of the Electoral Act clearly states that State apparatus, including the media, shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. The purport of this section is to make a fair playing ground for all candidates and political parties. It can be inferred from the subsection and subsequent provisions that the Act proscribes the use of any public resources which only one candidate or political party has access to or is entitled to.
“Subsection (3) equally provides that media time shall be allotted equally among political parties and candidates at similar hours of the day and by subsection 4 equal airtime for electronic media shall be allotted to all political parties or candidates during prime times at similar hours each subject to payment of appropriate fees. Subsection 6 provides that a violation of the Subsections 3 and 4 by any public media is a criminal offence.”
HURIWA observed that in spite of the specificity of the Electoral Act, “it does appear most lucidly from the practice of politicians occupying public office and the functioning of State or public apparatuses that the foregoing provisions of the Electoral Act is more observed in the breach. It is needless to say that the security operatives have become stooges of political office holders or their godfathers. They often forbid some political campaign rallies while they do not only openly maximally secure the processions or campaign venues of some other political parties or candidates but also openly show affection and attachment to their cause and in disapproval of any contrary views.
“A lot of times framing up followers of those they perceive as opponents of their political parties or preferred candidates, arresting and detaining them leading to a lot of some frivolous charges to contribute to the congestion of our prisons and courts’ diaries and list.
“Political office holders often and always during elections campaign travel in the convoy of official government vehicles and officials with all the paraphernalia of their offices as if their political party campaign is a state function for which state resources are to be deployed.
“It is often the case that public media houses devote so much time to the party in power and almost no time at all to the other parties except those with high political influence who can equally manoeuvre their ways. An indirect means deployed by some of the publicly owned media houses is to continuously play jingles of the alleged achievements of the government in power.”
The rights group expressed regret that a lot of times and that most recently, some of the most important apparatuses of the State that should serve to sanitise the society, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have been deployed to persecute some individuals to the benefit of the party in power.
It stated that these account for why a lot of appointments and dismal from political offices are made prior to and after elections.
“It is general knowledge that political officer holders and controllers of state apparatus usually appoint those who have sympathy for their cause in terms of party or candidature to man strategic offices directly connected with finance in order to have free access to funds during their campaign, funds usually disbursed under some bogus heads or members of the judiciary with whom they have some affiliation to aid the election petition of their parties.
“These are all misuse of state apparatus and abuse of office which is not only illegal but also criminal,” HURIWA stated.
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