AGORO- INEC’s disobedience of court orders, cause for concern

Dr. Olapade Agoro, founder of the National Action Council (NAC) and its former presidential candidate, speaks on the rescheduled gen­eral election, the controversial card readers, INEC’s seeming incompetence and its alleged disregard of court orders. JON­ATHAN EZE reports.

What is the implication of the election postponement on Nigeria?

Obviously, the postponement of the 2015 election from Feb­ruary 14 to March 28 is like the Almighty God saving Nigeria from crisis that would have been caused by treacherous people. I had, carefully, studied the situa­tion and discovered that Profes­sor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), was at war with himself, wait­ing for someone to help and, this, I promptly did by going public on Thursday, February 5, 2015, in Abuja and alerting the nation that “INEC was not prepared for the election”. It is appropriate for me to say that as at February 5, 2015, INEC was only about 40 percent ready to go ahead with the general election. Unknown to many people, a few hours after the Nigerian Television Author­ity (NTA) aired my views, two top officials of INEC called to thank me for rising to the occasion and saving the situation. It is perti­nent for me to say that the seem­ing poor preparation or lack of seriousness on the part of INEC was a deliberate intention to cause chaos in the polity and that would have justified his (Jega) being allowed to stay longer in of­fice, beyond his current term.

How will you rate INEC in terms of its preparation for the general election, espe­cially, given the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC)?

The Permanent Voter’s Card, although, a novel idea in the history of elections in Nigeria, is not well managed by INEC. This raises questions like why should INEC, which had almost four years to prepare after the 2011 general election, had to be dashing everywhere testing card readers and/or distributing Per­manent Voter’s Cards, with no end to the full distribution yet in sight. The most worrisome of the situation is, for example, Borno State, which, despite the ‘war’ there, would be recording 93% success in PVC distribution, with Lagos State recording 45%. The situation becomes unacceptable, unless someone, somewhere, is deceiving somebody, somehow.

Do you think card readers should be used?

Contrary to the diverse opin­ions for or against card readers being used to authenticate the PVCs, I believe that INEC should be allowed to execute the general election the best way it could.

March 28 is fast approach­ing and there are fears that the general election may be shifted again. What do you think?

Although, I will not like to be associated with those calling for a further shift of the general elec­tion beyond March 28, I believe that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well, so, if there is a necessity to suggest otherwise, why not? Nigeria is at war and it is the duty for one to say that no nation at war holds elections, not even Great Britain dared change Lord Winston Churchill, the Brit­ish Prime Minister during the Second World War. More so, the bloody war being waged by the Boko Haram insurgents against the (President Goodluck) Jona­than administration, was, nota­bly, fuelled by General Muham­madu Buhari’s alleged unsavoury pronouncement that he was going to make governance impossible for Jonathan after the 2011 elec­tions. Some disgruntled elements opposed to Jonathan’s presidency have, indeed, continued to fuel Buhari’s ungodly incitement and that has made governance almost impossible since then.

From your viewpoint, are you optimistic that the gen­eral election will hold?

With the recent pronounce­ment by a Federal High Court in Abuja, giving an order to INEC to include the name of Young Demo­cratic Party on the ballot paper, I doubt if the election will hold as scheduled without infringing on the court order. It must, however, be noted that the court order came harmfully too late, yet for political necessity and the rule of law guid­ing the democratic process, I don’t see the election holding, without infringing on the court order.

What is your position on the raging argument on the use of military during the general election?

On the issue of deploying the military during elections, Nige­ria must be seen to observe a re­cent court order in favour of the deployment, irrespective of what might have happened in the gov­ernorship election in Ekiti State during which Mr. Ayo Fayose was elected the state governor. Irrespective of how bad a court order is, it must be obeyed until it is set aside. INEC, under Jega, is habitually disobedient of court orders, particularly, of note is its unlawful deregistration of po­litical parties, as against a court order. But, for the love of the country, I could have gone back to court to ask for another order stopping the forthcoming elec­tions until the order restraining INEC from its deregistration of political parties is obeyed.

Why are you not fielding candidates in the rescheduled elections?

The National Action Council (NAC), as, presently, constituted, does not fall under the hammer of INEC’s deregistration, bear­ing in mind that it has a sub­sisting suit No. CA/L/621/2011 AGORO vs INEC pending be­fore the Court of Appeal, La­gos. Until that case is disposed, with a possible pronouncement against it, under the rule of law, NAC remains an existing politi­cal party in Nigeria. The recent court order directing INEC to put the name of Young Democratic Party on the ballot papers may be an eye-opener for me to ex­plore asking for a court order to put the forthcoming elections on hold until NAC is also put on the ballot papers, after all, elections are about the rule of law. It will be in my best interest and NAC to, actively, participate in the forthcoming elections, fielding credible candidates, far better than those on parade by some of the political parties. Jega needs to explain to the world why he disallowed some parties, known to oppose his draconian rules, on the basis of their not having won any seat or having any represen­tation at the federal or state level, while he allowed others, with no voice in the polity, presence on the ballot papers.

There are rumours that your party might merge with the PDP. Is that true?

I have stated it many times that there is no way the National Action Council, destined by the Almighty God to uphold values, will ever merge with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party. We are waiting for our time, which, hopefully, will be soon.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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