THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS: MATTERS ARISING
On Wednesday March 1, 2023, INEC concluded the collation of results of the 2023 presidential election. There have been allegations and reported cases of suppression, intimidation and harassment of voters, corruption of the electoral process, manipulation of election results by politicians and logistics problems on the part of the electoral umpire, amongst many others.
All over the world, democracy is always a game of numbers and of choice, the absence of which creates legitimacy questions. Under and by virtue of section 14 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution:
“SOVEREIGNTY belongs to the PEOPLE OF NIGERIA from whom GOVERNMENT through this Constitution DERIVES all its POWERS AND AUTHORITY.” (emphasis supplied).
Thus, the legitimacy of any government belongs to the people of Nigeria through their free mandate as expressed with their votes. To this end, no legitimacy can spring forth from any process that is devoid of transparency and accountability. Observable cases of threat to voters, physical injury and even death in some cases, all indicate some form of deliberate design to compromise the electoral process of the last presidential election. This is totally unacceptable.
In order to guarantee the autonomy of INEC, the Constitution makes it totally independent. For this particular election, funding was provided ahead of time to enable INEC create a free, fair and credible process.
As law-abiding citizens, we have thus waited for INEC to conclude the process of the presidential election, in order to provide the basis for all aggrieved participants and stakeholders to engage the due process of law to ventilate their grievances.
It is worrisome that our electoral process has not gained any advantage from the robust efforts of well-meaning Nigerians, leading to the enactment of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The desire for peace and progress in any land can only be achieved through the pursuit of truth and justice. In the same vein, all aggrieved persons must embrace the legitimate avenues created by law to achieve lawful remedies.
INEC has a big burden to demonstrate integrity, accountability and transparent adherence to the laws regulating the electoral process and its own guidelines, which will enable us to determine the TRUE will of the people, no matter the circumstances.
The presidential election of February 25, 2023 cannot be portrayed as a worthy legacy for our dear country.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
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