Human right lawyers fear that election violence may scuttle democracy

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– Condemn police, SARS in Rivers by-election violence

By David Ejiohuo

Election violence may injure Nigeria’s fledgling democracy, so warned the president of the Human Right Lawyers in the country, Abdul Mammud.

Abdul Mammud expressed the worry during the week when he spoke with our correspondent at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

According to the Human Right Lawyer President, his organization was getting worried about the journey taken so far in our democratic movement.

Answering questions on how safe he thinks the Nigerian democracy was, Abdul Mahmmud explained that the actions of the present crop of politicians in the country were something else and negatively impacting the nature of our democracy.

Democracy, he noted, was about a healthy competition but that the situation where you find these politicians turning democracy into an unhealthy competition was worrisome.

According to him, who was in Rivers State capital on Saturday to monitor the ward election, what he saw, was an aberration and spells damage to the democracy in Nigeria.

He condemned the actions of a unit of the Nigeria Police force, the Special Anti Robbery Squared (SARS), who he said, was abusing and subverting the integrity of an electoral process. “Our election is chaotic and it has affected the major foundations of our democracy”. “The determination of some politicians to use violence to subvert and abuse democratic process is uncalled for”.

He pointed out that the leadership of Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) had gone a pace and had created some level of confidence in the electoral process but that the process where the politician go ahead and snatch ballot boxes was condemnable and bad enough.

This action of the politicians he further noted, was causing apathy in the electioneering process, especially in the southern parts of the country like what happed in Edo and Anambra States. “The people who win elections in the southern parts of the country, do not enjoy the legitimacy of the electorates, especially the governors, because they are elected with just less number of people as compared to the number in the election registers”.

This he explained, raises two fundamental questions which were, “that perhaps the people were no longer interested in voting because their vote’s no longer counts or that the electoral register is so padded that the number you see do not represent the number of real voters registers”.

On the refusal of the President Mohamad Buhari to sign the amended electoral law, the human right lawyer described it as a problem because the card readers are not backed by any law or legislation.

According to him, the President’s refusal to sign the amended electoral acts raises further questions like, “is he interested in reforming the electoral process”

“With all respect, the elections so far conducted under him, the INEC should not be blamed for what went wrong but his agents have shown that his body language is or does not show any serious effort to reform the electoral process”.

His refusal to sign the law, he warned, could impose more danger to the elections and democracy in future.