President Muhammadu Buhari has formally reacted to the release of the 2019 election timetable and schedule of activities by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, warning actors in the political space against a resort to violence in an attempt to sway electoral support, or in the event that they are rejected at the polls.
This was as he said his election as president in 2015 was a reflection of the will of Nigerians, a position that was immediately denounced by one of the three key speakers and former Governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido who posited that the 2015 elections were defined by the “lies and propaganda of a coalition of desperate politicians” under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress APC.
“The elections that ushered the ‘change’ government into power in 2015 reflected the will of the Nigerian people and was widely acclaimed as transparent and peaceful.
“From Umuahia to Damaturu, Jalingo to Osogbo, our people queued for long hours at their polling units and kept vigil as election officials tabulated their votes. And then the big one: the then outgoing president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan historically set the tone for future political conduct in the country by graciously accepting defeat in a keenly contested race”, the president recalled.
He said the election timetable is a reminder to politicians and other stakeholders that the 2019 general elections were fast approaching.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the president said his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan by his actions in 2015, had already set the tone for decent political conduct in the country.
“I also call on politicians and political parties to pledge their commitment to the peaceful democratic process by urging their supporters to respect the electoral process and restrain them from violence. All aggrieved parties should seek redress through constitutional means and respect for the rule of law.
“On our part, I want to assure Nigerians that my administration will not condone any violence, support any individual or groups that undermine citizens’ confidence in the ability of the country’s political institutions to conduct peaceful and successful elections”, he said.
Allow Attorney Generals handle Election Disputes -Ajibola
Chairman of the occasion and former Judge of the International Court of Justice ICJ, Prince Bola Ajibola on his part, advised the federal government to allow Commissioners of Justice and Attorneys General in the states to handle 2019 election disputes.
Ajibola, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, said; “The point I am making is to allow the Attorneys-General and Commissioners of Justice in all the states to handle as Judges the cases of election petition by moving them around the states, come 2019 so that non will preside over matters in his own state and will definitely serve in another state either jointly, with a panel or alone”.
He also advocated an amendment of Paragraph 2 of S.150 of the 1999 Constitution which states that “…a person shall not be qualified to hold or perform the function of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation unless he is qualified to practise, as a legal practitioner and has been so qualified for not less than 10 years”.
According to Ajibola, “instead of 10 years, we now need to replace it with ‘Senior Advocate Of Nigeria SAN’. We have so many of them now and they are competent to handle this service”