The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has demanded investigation into the Ekiti rigging audio, which appears to show how the military hierarchy and some members of the Peoples Democratic Party, including Governor Ayo Fayose, planned the rigging of the June 21, 2014 governorship election in the state.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Soyinka asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to work with the international community to conduct the investigation and make the findings of the exercise known to save Nigeria’s democracy.
He said brushing the issue aside as just electoral malpractice approaches criminal subversion and treason.
Mr. Fayose defeated the All Progressive Congress candidate and then governor, Kayode Fayemi, in the election.
However, a few weeks ago, an army captain, Sagir Koli, leaked the tape of a meeting held by Mr. Fayose, a former Minister of State for Defence and ministerial nominee, Musiliu Obanikoro; a former senator, Iyiola Omisore; the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; his predecessor, Caleb Olubolade; and army commander, Aliyu Momoh, a brigadier general.
Though some of them – Messrs Adesiyan, Omisore and Fayose – admitted the meeting held, they claimed it was not convened to plan election rigging.
Mr. Obanikoro said no such meeting held while President Goodluck Jonathan has claimed it was a mere fabrication.
Mr. Soyinka said he was drawn to an advertorial placed by Mr. Fayose, on the matter, stating that for those who have nothing to hide, disrobing lies and forgeries and reinforcing truth is regarded as part and parcel of the obligations owed to democracy.
He said, “The audio could well be one of the forgeries. We are daily inundated with allegations, evasions, distortions, image plundering and image laundering, all under the permissive canopy of electoral proceeding.
“Once in a while however, we encounter exposure of an exceptional dimension that appears to strike at the very root of Democracy, questions the validity of an entire electoral system and even erodes confidence in the integrity of the state.
“Such an event need not be regarded as a repudiation of the formal mechanics put in place by an electioneering agency such as INEC, but nonetheless extends the scope of its responsibilities, including its projection of looming hazards of future electoral exercises.
“This is why, in the absence of a Constitutional Court or its equivalent, one is left with no other course than to call on INEC to also take formal charge of the recorded incident of this alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of Democracy.
“For those ‘who have nothing to hide’, it is a call that deserves unstinting support. They should not hesitate to assist in calling on the same US expertise to assist us in exposing a forgery.”
He wondered if INEC could undertake the exercise while the nation “waits out its suspended electoral sentence?”
“It only requires repudiation – or validation – of the findings of an already advanced forensic enquiry,” Mr. Soyinka said.
The Noble Laureate also suggested that the two anti-corruption agencies – the EFCC and the ICPC – should be involved since material corruption is also implicit in the present instance.
According to him, “Let no one attempt to facilitate the rampaging course of impunity by brushing this aside as just another electoral malpractice – no, in my layman estimation, this approaches criminal subversion and treason.
“The accusation is blatant and the demand for rigorous investigation must remain unrelenting. The accounts of the inculpated General and others should be subjected to the same scrutiny as those of the earlier cited Inspector-General of police. And so on, and so clamorous! Those who have nothing to fear can sleep easy.”
“At the fount of all electoral manipulation is the grim facilitator – Money! Here, for instance, is a lesson drawn from the travails of a former Inspector-General of Police in recent history,” he said.
“That scandal happened to coincide with a barely concluded electoral exercise, considered by some as a strong contestant for one of the most blatantly manipulated election in the nation’s history. A number of bulging accounts had been traced to that Inspector-General.
“During private discussions, I exhorted the then Director of EFCC to go beyond the sensational monetary finds and track each of them painstakingly back to source. “If you succeed in that”,
“I urged Nuhu Ribadu, “you would have done more than merely expose institutional police corruption, you would have done inestimable service to the cause of Democracy.
Mr. Soyinka argued that anyone who disputes a robust connection between material and political corruption should reflect on the mild slap on the wrist that the I-G received for charges of misappropriation of such staggering dimensions.
He said now it is the turn of the army as facilitators for the alleged political crime.
He stated further, “Allied to this elite criminal corps – again, as alleged – was a former Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee turned governorship candidate.
“The evidence resides in the recording of a conspiracy against free and fair elections, later reinforced by a televised interview with the whistle blower – a military intelligence officer.
“That recording has been heard by millions all over the world – governments, Human Rights Organizations, election monitoring groups, business individuals, even those merely seeking real-life variants on improbable Nollywood fare. The alleged crime is in global domain.”
Mr. Soyinka said if the formal agencies fail, then citizens must learn to assert their right of access to truth.
“Let no one attempt to facilitate the rampaging course of impunity by brushing this aside as just another electoral malpractice – no, in my layman estimation, this approaches criminal subversion and treason.
“The accusation is blatant and the demand for rigorous investigation must remain unrelenting. The accounts of the inculpated General and others should be subjected to the same scrutiny as those of the earlier cited Inspector-General of police. And so on, and so clamorous! Those who have nothing to fear can sleep easy.
He said, “As is the practice in other societies, a Citizens Trial can be instituted, experts co-opted, and both accusers and accused invited to testify. Even the venue does not have to be internal, since witnesses may require protection.
“Democracy does not begin or end with the ballot box, nor is it confined to national boundaries. There is no assertion anywhere yet of a “Case Proven”, no rush to judgment, simply a craving – as urged in the said governor’s advertorial – to let “facts Speak for themselves!”