… says non-inauguration of elected members dangerous to democracy
A pro-democracy group, the Strategic Advocacy Outreach (SAO), has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Justice Muhammad Tanko, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami Abubakar and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata over the lingering Edo House of Assembly crisis which has left 14 elected members on the sidelines, unable to offer representation to their constituencies owing to a protracted legal hearing complicated by political disagreements.
The group’s Convener, Mr. John Mayaki who dispatched the petitions earlier in the day said the situation amounted to a “detention of democracy in Edo State” and urged the petitioned government leaders to take urgent actions to resolve the crisis with a view to ensuring the inauguration of the sidelined members before the expiration of their term.
Citing the danger this incident poses to Nigeria’s democracy and constitutional supremacy, Mayaki explained that the continued exclusion of the elected members violates the protected rights of citizens to choose their representatives in government and for their voices to be heard before actions are taken on important matters of state.
The group’s Convener who told journalists in Abuja that “I just left the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammad Tanko and that of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice”, lamented that “for over two years now, millions of constituencies have essentially been shut out of governance and their choices at the polls dismissed over what it described as a bid by political actors to restrict participation only to those with the same partisan leanings”.
According to the group, the legislative arm of government represents the pillar of democracy given its checks and balance role and constitutional mandate to ensure that policies enjoy the backing of the majority before they become law.
Ruing the state of affairs in Edo State, the group said elected members owe allegiance only to their constituencies, and a situation in which swearing-in is made contingent upon subservience to the Executive arm of government is an abuse of power that could prove the death knell for democracy in Nigeria if allowed to become a precedent.
They pleaded with the President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association to wade into the matter and ensure that the legal obstruction to the swearing-in of the elected members is removed in order to preserve the sacredness of elections and restore the faith of the people in their constitutional rights to determine for themselves who should represent their interests without any overriding interventions, especially when such interventions are driven by self-serving partisan interests not shared by the people.
Report by John Mayaki