The organized labour on Sunday threatened to set up what it called a hall of shame for judges that would compromise their responsibilities in the dispensation of justice because of pecuniary benefits.
This is as the civil society groups have said that the judiciary in the country is on trial and promised to protect the collective democratic aspirations and ethos as a country.
Speaking in a press briefing by the Labour Civil Society Front, LCSF, in Abuja, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that the judiciary in the country is seriously down a situation that had led to the mantra “go to court” by corrupt people that stole the mandate of the people in the just concluded election.
Ajaero alleged that the judiciary has set many states and institutions on fire, citing example with Imo state where he said that it is still a mystery where someone that was not a candidate of a party was declared a governor by the court (Supreme Court).
Commending the group for rising up to defend the democracy, he said, “We identify with all the views expressed here this afternoon because we believe that the mission is geared towards rescuing Nigeria rescuing the judiciary.
“The judiciary is clearly down. The judiciary has set so many states and institutions on fire. The judiciary has set Imo state on fire. Up till now, people are asking how can a person who is not a candidate of his party be declared governor? The judiciary has so many questions to answer.
” If they failed to answer those questions within a short time we would create a hall of shame for those judges that come up with such judgments and that will happen soon. There is needed for the NBA, for all arms in the judiciary, to the bar benches, and all to speak out on what is happening in the judiciary. We doubt whether judiciary is still the last hope of the common man.
“Now the destiny of the country hangs. It is either they fulfil it or they betray it once again. There is a lot, the acronym go to the court these days is now shameful. When people tell you go to court, they are telling you that’s the end of the matter.
“The NLC identifies with this body, not necessarily on political basis but in order to rescue this country. We can see the youths struggling these days to see whether they can make impact. You can see that there is a gulf between those governing and the youths, there is no connection anywhere. What the guys see as a module of governance, some of it they learnt from schools, and not what are being practised.”
In a statement signed by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Comrade Shehu Sani, Ambassador Nkpyo Toyo and Salisu Mohammed on behalf of the Labour Civil Society Front, titled, “In the defence of Nigeria’s democracy and in solidarity with the Nigerian workers, the group said the 2023 general elections have taken place but its ripples and aftermath for our promising democracy have been worrisome and frightening.
The text read by Ambassador Toyo, said, “Some of us, who are architects of Nigeria’s current democratic experience, being human rights leaders, political rights advocates, progressives, civil society and labour movement activists that fought the military for the restoration of democratic governance in Nigeria, have watched with utter astonishment, how the processes and procedures meant to consolidate our 24 years of democratic wins have been greatly eroded through the 2023 general elections.
“We entered this season of elections with a strong consensus by Nigerians that the New Electoral Act 2022 will improve the level of electoral accountability and that the huge financial investment of about N355 billion in electoral processes (involving the deployment of Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) technology), will make a marked difference to the elections. Sadly, the 2023 general elections became an anti-climax, dashing the hopes of Nigerians for credible elections and denying citizens the emergence of qualitative political leadership across Nigeria.
“Clearly, INEC in cahoots with some members of our political class have driven a death nail into the democratic experience of most Nigerians thus leaving the electorate despondent to resort to self-help in their effort to salvage whatever is left of their vibrant political engagement with the 2023 elections. Unfortunately, majority of Nigerians, especially the youths who fought with patriotism to reset their country through the ballot box, are now wondering if elections have not become the tool for legitimizing the corrupt takeover of Nigeria.
“This dark cloud of angst arising from a terribly mismanaged 2023 General Elections has jolted the confidence and hope of many Nigerians, thus propelling us as Citizens of Conscience to take the bold step of beginning to resist and mitigate the intended and unintended crisis looming over our dear country.
“We recall the hard-earned democratic reputation of many seated here today, who organized in the early 1990s through actions of coalitions of citizens’ groups, labour and human rights organizations for an end to military dictatorship.
“Their voices held sway as they resorted to citizens’ actions, demonstrations, strikes, global solidarity action and other civil resistance measures to compel the regimes of Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha to concede to the wishes of the citizens. “
Continuing, the group said, “From all indications, the 2023 General Elections has become a rude reminder of how quickly things can degenerate and that the emergence of what was then termed ‘gun powered democracy’, through which incumbent military regimes manipulated political processes to transmutate themselves into ‘elected democratic’ governments, has given way to corrupt money powered imposed rulership, using the trajectory of democratic processes and elections to capture and perpetuate themselves in power.
“In what we see as a democratic redemptive mission, We the Vanguards of concerned citizens and democrats; with a front seat in the history of democratic transitions in Nigeria, are committed to ensuring that political leadership is not foisted on the country at the expense of the democratic gains made so far.
“As a first step, we have decided to signify our public displeasure at INEC and those behind the political coup against the well-laid out and established electoral norms and standards contained in the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022.
“Therefore, we condemn the outright manipulation of the electoral process and abdication of responsibility by INEC as it has not only destroyed trust in the democratic process, but has rewarded wrongdoing, making it possible for persons of stupendous wealth, who lack legitimacy, to become the real beneficiaries of our electoral process.”
Describing Nigeria a decomposing democracy, the group said, “Prior to the 2023 general elections, INEC showed early signs of inconsistency by shifting electoral deadlines, which favoured the ruling party.
“INEC also discouraged new voters from registering through an abrupt decision to halt the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR). And as if that was not enough, INEC deployed technical personnel manning sensitive positions to non-technical roles, thereby interrupting the seamless and effective deployment of technology in the elections.
“As a decoy, INEC initially displayed a high level of preparedness during off season elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun governorship elections. INEC’s use of technology in those elections gave Nigerians reason to believe that technology will apply in the subsequent 2023 General Elections thereby causing Nigerians to be caught off- guard.
“Though not unexpected, INEC and Security agencies failed to act when in some areas, such as Lagos, attacks on non-indigenous groups wanting to vote were unleashed by the ruling party. Similarly, the use of hate speeches and other criminal behaviours were treated with levity, thereby incentivizing the subsequent use of electoral violence, brigandage and outright impunity during the 2023 elections.
“To give one graphic example, the LP Senatorial Candidate for Enugu East was brutally attacked, set ablaze and murdered a few days to the February 25th Presidential and National Assembly election with little or no consequences. “
It said, “On 25th February as well as 18th March 2023, INEC operations were poorly carried out (see reports of various observer groups) as deployment of election materials to polling units witnessed deliberate lapses, while security personnel could not contain the criminal activities of well-armed thugs that took over some strategic polling units in violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and the 2023 Election Guidelines.
“These weaknesses were further worsened by huge and open enticement of voters with cash and gifts by political party operatives in the full glare of security operatives. Additionally, the speed with which INEC and its officials were willing to disregard the provisions of Sections of the electoral act 2022 and their own electoral Guidelines to hurriedly announce election results, not minding the fact that the processes were severely undermined, gave grounds for deep concerns. For instance, Sec 60(5), and 149 of 2022 Electoral Act and Clause 38 of INEC 2022 Guidelines and Regulations for Conduct of the 2023 General Elections were ignored and manual accreditation of voters for both the presidential and governorship elections were endorsed thus opening the floodgate for the destruction of the sanctity and credibility of the 2023 elections.
“The most phenomenal failure by INEC was her refusal to upload the presidential election results from BVAS unto IREV at real time as stipulated by the Electoral Act 2022, as contained in INEC Guidelines for the 2023 elections as repeatedly espoused by the INEC Chairman .
“This happened even as the NASS elections conducted at the same time and on the same day were seamlessly uploaded, while INEC was unable to upload results of the Presidential elections as required by the law. These blatant inconsistencies by INEC in applying different electoral standards in conducting same day elections for Presidential and National Assembly elections point to a deliberate manipulation of NEC’s well publicised Guidelines, which INEC mindlessly replaced, opting for administrative arbitrariness.
“In summary, Nigeria suffered a monumental reversal in her electoral and democratic gains through the criminal mismanagement of the electoral process by the INEC and security agencies, who both compromised their duties and donated their power of election refereeing and law enforcement to unscrupulous politicians bent on imposing their self will over and above that of the people.
“A brazen and most shameful example was seen in Adamawa, where INEC emboldened by its many earlier infractions, decided to go for broke, by declaring Senator Binani as winner of an unconcluded governorship election.