Akinbode Oluwafemi, CAPPA boss
Bizarre court ruling may truncate 2023 general elections – CAPPA
By Valentine Amanze
The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has advised the Nigerian government and politicians to eschew utterances and conduct likely to undermine the success of the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
CAPPA gave the advice in a statement issued in Lagos, following the brewing tension in the polity orchestrated by the ruling of Justice Evelyn Anyadike at a Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State nullifying Section 84 (12) of the newly amended Electoral Act 2022, which prohibits political appointees at any level from either voting or vying at their political parties’ primary elections.
In the statement signed by its Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, CAPPA pointed out that as a host of legal luminaries and stakeholders had posited, the judgment of the Federal High Court in Umuahia Abia State was strange, especially because save for the Attorney General of the Federation, neither the National Assembly which passed the Act nor the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of operationalising the provisions of the Act were included as parties to the suit filed to cancel the provision in view.
The CAPPA statement noted: “We are alarmed at the current administration’s decision to speedily enforce the court’s verdict despite the contentious nature of the issue. We consider this decision to be rash, divisive, and unhelpful in a multiparty democracy.
“In our view, the overall shoddiness of the matter’s presentation in court and the hasty pronouncement of a ruling, including the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami’s readiness to act upon the judgment not only negates the principle of natural justice but is also abuse of state power and violations of due process.”
CAPPA stressed that the controversies and disagreements over the new electoral legislation that is expected to guide the entirety and conduct of the election almost around the corner are a needless distraction, especially for INEC, political parties, and other critical entities that have swung into preparation activities for the election riding on the provisions of the contested Act.
The group expressed fear that unless the controversy surrounding the disputed provision was amicably resolved with the interest of the sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy at the heart of all parties to the dispute, there was the likelihood that the forthcoming general elections could be entrapped in legal quagmires that may lead to a disruption of key electoral processes or worse, the disputation of the outcomes of party conventions and electoral results.
“The likely prospect of a broken election will not be in the interest of Nigeria. We, therefore, urge Nigerian leaders and ruling class to put their differences aside, learn from the resurgence of coups and political instabilities in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso and refrain from conducts that are likely to truncate our fledgling democracy.
“Nigeria’s democracy is a product of the sacrifices and struggles of citizens from all walks of life including pro-democracy activists, workers, and students. Political leaders should not sacrifice Nigeria’s democracy for their individual and party interests. Even more, the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria offer opportunities for the country to deepen both political and social inclusion inspired by the innovative electoral legislation.
“The success of this election will not only portend a great significance for Nigeria but also the entirety of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Therefore, a greater sense of responsibility, decorum, and tolerance is expected from Nigeria’s political class as the country prepares for its elections, especially after all the investment, work, and time committed to producing the highly progressive Electoral Act 2022.”