2019 General Elections an expensive joke – Femi Falana
As the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC prepares for supplementary elections in six states in the country, Mr Femi Falana, SAN and human right activist has described the 2019 general elections as “a useless enterprise and an expensive joke.”
Mr. Falana, who spoke in an interview on Sunrise Daily, a popular programme on Channels Television, said that government at all levels must have expended over N250bn on the elections, declaring that “This joke, this expensive joke cannot continue.
“This country spent over N250bn from the public purse on this useless enterprise, apart from what each of the governors and political parties spent, which is more than N250bn.
“Now, we are going to tribunals and courts to spend more money.”
The activist said the elections were marred by violence, vote-buying and unwarranted intimidation of voters, as acknowledged by some election observers.
Falana added, “The observers witnessed vote-buying, snatching of ballot boxes, reckless killings, unwarranted intimidation of voters and the populace at large.
“Some of the scenes in Rivers and some other states, you would think that a war was going on.
“This is not what the Constitution expected as a free exercise of the franchise of the people.”
Falana said it was ironic that the same All Progressives Congress that had gone to court to get judgments barring the military from participating in elections could still go ahead to deploy soldiers.
He noted that both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court had given judgments to the effect that soldiers should not be involved in the electoral process.
“I was surprised when the Chief of Army Staff said he was setting up a panel. To do what, exactly, when you have no business in election in the first place?” Falana asked.
He said that successive administrations had been setting up panels on electoral reforms but often times, the recommendations are ignored.
“Under the PDP, the late Shehu Yar’Adua admitted publicly in 2007 that the election that brought him into office was highly flawed and set up the Mohammed Uwais electoral panel.
“President Goodluck Jonathan set up a panel headed by Sheikh Ahmed Lemu after the 2011 elections.
“Over 800 people were killed in the North and also in Akwa Ibom in 2011.
“Buhari set up the Ken Nnamani Panel and it studied the two earlier reports and made some recommendations, but all of them have been set aside,” Falana lamented.
The activist also lambasted the Peoples’ Democratic Party for playing the victim.
He said when the PDP was in power, it boasted that it would remain in power for 60 years based on the rigged system that favoured the then ruling party at the time.
Falana further stated that the high level of unemployment and illiteracy in the nation would ensure that electoral malpractices continue.
He said, “In a country where almost 20 million children of school age are on the streets, where we have about 40 million illiterates, where the majority of graduates are roaming the streets, in such an environment, you can preach till Jesus returns, but that will not stop people from engaging in acts of electoral violence.”
The senior advocate said the electoral violence would continue as long as perpetrators are not brought to book.
Falana said most electoral offenders were agents of prominent politicians who usually protect them from prosecution.
He rubbished insinuations that the inconclusive elections in some states was evidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission was working for some vested interests, noting that inconclusive elections also happened in 2011 and 2015; while, in some instances, the results eventually favoured the opposition.
On whether electronic voting would reduce electoral fraud, Falana said it was unlikely, since professional agencies like the Nigerian Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, which both used electronic voting, also conducted controversial elections.
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