The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has condemned the front page advertisement in select national newspapers on Monday, January 19, 2015, credited to Gov. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State with the banner headline “Nigerians Be Warned’’.
The Situation Room is made up of CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than Sixty.
The group described the advertisement as being in extreme bad taste and falling within the category of hate speech prohibited under the Electoral Act and other known international laws that forbid the publication of hate speech.
According to the Situation Room, the advertisement negates the Abuja Accord recently signed by the presidential candidates and leaders of political parties for the elections.
The group advised politicians to be cautious in their campaign and conduct ahead of the February polls.
The group expressed disappointment that such a publication could emanate from a highly placed political office holder. It equally condemned newspapers for accepting to publish such advertisement in clear violation of their duty to promote national cohesion at a critical time in the life of the country.
The group reminded Governor Fayose and all other politicians that the constitutional requirements for running for the office of president are clearly stated under S.131 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). And that the section provides that:
a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if –
(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
(b) he has attained the age of forty years;
(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party;
(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
Furthermore S. 95 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) prohibits this kind of intemperate and slanderous language and innuendo from being used as campaign tools.
In the advertisement, Gov. Fayose had stated:
“Nigerians be warned”
“Nigeria… “I have set before thee – Life and Death”.
“Therefore, choose Life that both thee and thy seed may live”.
“Will you allow history to repeat itself?”
“Enough of state burials”.
“Nigerians vote wisely”.
“Vote Goodluck Jonathan”.
“Northern Presidency should wait till 2019”.
The advertisement had included photographs of former Heads of States/Presidents of Northern origin, who had died in office and appeared to indicate that a similar fate awaits Muhammadu Buhari.