A senator has said with the loopholes in Nigeria’s electoral laws that make electoral offenders go unpunished, one can be tempted to say that a military government is better than democratic government.”
Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi) said this on Wednesday when the Senate debated a bill, which passed second reading the same day, to establish an electoral offences commission.
He berated how the last general elections, as well as the supplementary elections which returned him to the red chamber, was marred by violence, saying it brings “people of questionable character” to elective positions.
“I think the time has come for us, not just to look at the possibility of having a tribunal. I think there is a need for a special court for the electoral offences,” he noted, before drawing a parallel between democratic and civil rule.
But the senate president cut in to remind him that “we are in a democracy.”
Mr Adeyemi pressed on: “I am saying that having people rigged into executive positions is the worst thing that can happen. I have said it over the years that a military government is the worst but it is even worse when you have people that are forcing themselves on the people.
“We need a special court for electoral offences. Good governance is what democracy is all about but when people are not elected and they get into any position is the worst thing that can happen to any nation. That is just the emphasis I want to make.”
Plenary observers believe Mr Adeyemi’s position stemmed from a long electoral battle which pitched him against his arch political rival, Dino Melaye.
Both men had between themselves elections largely marred by electoral malpractices, observers say. Mr Adeyemi was ousted from the Senate in 2015 by Mr Melaye.
He again lost to the same opponent in last year’s general elections but an appellate court saved his blushes. The court sacked Mr Melaye, ordering a rerun, aftermath of which led to Mr Adeyemi ousting Mr Maleye last November.
Obviously referring to the irregularities in the elections between himself and his opponent, Mr Adeyemi said for Nigeria not to run a pseudo-democratic system of government, “punitive measures for election rigging, electoral offences” must be put in place.
Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 after two civil dispensations were aborted by the military junta in a series of coups, countercoup and a devastating civil war that left millions dead.
Talking of the bill, the lawmaker said because over the years Nigeria has witnessed “bad governance which emanated from people who have succeeded in rigging,” the establishment of a commission for election offenders is long overdue.
He said this is “so that only women and men of honour would be elected, not charlatans, not ragamuffins coming to the National Assembly, making laws. People whose records are questionable character, sitting and making noise.”
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