Prominent Civil Society and pro-democracy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair, transparent and trustworthy election in the Anambra state gubernatorial poll to avoid throwing the South East of Nigeria into uncontrollable spin off of upheavals because how well the Anambra State’s governorship election is conducted will determine the political, economic and futuristic health and well being of the Igbo speaking people all around the World.
The Civil Rights Advocacy Group said it is heart-warming that the Anambra State electorate have some of the most finest statesmen, industrialists, job creators, wealth creators and astute God fearing persons running for the office of the Governor of Anambra State in few days time just as the Rights group said it was disappointing that the All Progressives Congress has consistently manifested a frightening proportions of desperation and political avarice to grab the office of governor of Anambra State by hook or by crook.
HURIWA tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to play the role of a statesman like he did when Willie Obiano of All Progressives Congress won a Second term and avoid the temptation to manipulate the National Electoral Commission of Nigeria to steal the votes of the People of Anambra State to be donated to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The group further stated it will be a political tragedy of gargantuan proportions should INEC be used and manipulated to return victory to the All Progressives Congress which has a candidate that had once been railroaded into the same office by the then INEC controlled by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo during whose short and inglorious tenure a lot of political disturbances that led to the destruction of Anambra State owned infrastructures and assets occurred.
HURIWA believes that the voters won’t let political lightening strike them twice just as it accused the governor of Anambra State of alleged collusion with the Presidency to probably allow the Independent National Electoral Commission to once more railroad the desperate All Progressives Congress into power in Anambra State going by the massive scale of subterranean programmes by the All Progressives Congress to steal the votes in the coming election.
HURIWA has challenged the people of Anambra State to safeguard their votes if they hope to have good governance beyond November. The organisation pointed out that although the All Progressives Grand Alliance has a sound candidate for the poll, but the infighting within the party and the alleged sell out by the party to the Presidency may sabotage his chances therefore HURIWA has stated that the voters have the opportunity of their life time to elect an astute, young pro-democracy activist and a Cultural activist who is passionate about Igbo cultural, economic and political advancement in the person of the erstwhile Chief Executive officer of the most prosperous hotel group in Nigeria -Transcorp Hilton, Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“We have perused the blueprints of all the candidates and found the developmental framework put forward by Valentine Ozigbo and that of Charles Soludo to be very articulate but the voters need to make a clean sweep from the past by electing a totally new breed and young politician with no baggage but only sustainable and enduring plans to expand the horizons of industrialisation of Anambra State.
“We have read his visions for Education, Economy, Commerce & Trade, Youth Development & Sports, Science & Technology and we found out that he has what it takes to be the next Peter Obi of Anambra State who as we know, remains the best Governor out of Nigeria since the amalgamation of the North and South of Nigeria in 1914”.
Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Valentine Ozigbo, has promised to develop Governor Willie Obiano’s Local Government Area, Anambra East, if elected governor.
Ozigbo has also promised to pay adequate attention to development issues in all the LGAs in that part of the state that make up Omambala, saying that he would transform the area into the biggest agricultural hub in the country.
The governorship hopeful made the promise while speaking at his campaign rally in Aguleri, Obiano’s hometown, which was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church field
“My dear people, I will not abandon any project left uncompleted in your area by my predecessor. My government will bring transformation here and do everything your son and brother could not do for you. I’m in the race to wipe your tears”, he promised.
Ozigbo, who spoke glowingly about his Ka Anambra Chawapu blueprint for the state, expressed worry over the failure of the current state government to give the Omambala area the attention it deserves.
The immediate past President and Group CEO of TRANSCORP Plc said that the Omambala area, which is the food basket of the state, has remained a mere subsistence farming zone, “even when one of your own occupies the position of number one citizen in the state.”
“By the grace of God, my administration will concentrate greater efforts, attention and resources on areas with unique economic potentials, such as the Omambala area.
“We want to harness the agricultural and tourism potentials of the Omambala area and ensure that it becomes viable sources of internally generated revenue.
“The four local government areas which Anambra East is one, will be an agricultural hub that will go beyond mere production to processing of agricultural produce”, Ozigbo promised.
Former state chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Ejike Oguebego, who serves as the Director of Inter-Party and Intra-Party Affairs for the Governorship Campaign Organisation, in his remark, expressed confidence that his party would win the election.
Oguebego, a prominent political leader in Anambra East LGA, recalled that “When we started this journey, I told people that Valentine Ozigbo would win the PDP primary election, and he did. Today, he is standing before you with a promise to make your life better if elected governor.
“I can assure you that by March 2022, he will be inaugurated as governor through your hard work and prayers”, Oguebego said.
Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the November 6 guber election in Anambra State, Mr Valentine Ozigbo also decried the level of infrastructure decay in the state presently and said Anambra needs a man who can totally overhaul the situation for good.
Speaking in Awka as part of his return to the state after the appeal court victory and INEC listing of his name as the authentic candidate of the party, Ozigbo described his governorship project as a divine mandate which when elected into office will right the wrongs of the present government in the state.
“Entering Anambra, I had a first-hand experience of the decay in the state with the terrible condition of the road in Amansea. That road is an example of the dearth of infrastructure in Anambra.
“There’s nothing to be proud of in Anambra presently. Roads are bad, healthcare is non-existent, education is moribund, security is at an all-time low, add this to the state’s debt profile, and you will agree that Anambra needs a total overhaul.
He said the priority of the party and his campaign council is to mobilise and convince people to vote, noting that with the massive support of the people, he will emerge victorious on November 6.
“If we don’t start now, we might never get it right. Our freedom must begin now. November 6 is our date with history, and we are ready to march to victory,” Ozigbo added.
Also speaking at the party secretariat in Udoka Estate, Awka where hundreds of party members were on hand to welcome him, Ozigbo affirmed his readiness to run a winning campaign.
“The party at the centre has been making moves to undermine the democratic process, but Anambra is not Imo. They attempted to keep non-sensitive materials for the election in Imo State, but we rejected it, and that decision has been rescinded.
Some supporters at the scene said Ozigbo is widely regarded as the favourite to win the Anambra guber election after his revolutionary Ka Anambra Chawapu message sparked one of the biggest political movements in Nigeria.
Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Valentine Ozigbo, has expressed sadness over the ugly events that have taken place in the state.
He said that he was deeply pained that the people of the state have been devastated by the negative occurrences in the state,saying that they’re also suffering as a result of the poor governance of the state.
“I feel pained; pained because when you listen to the people on the streets; when you look at the younger ones we are leaving behind, when you look at the women, when you go round and ask how they feel, it is about pain and suffering.
“Anambra deserves more. We, indeed, deserve more. I am certain that if the right things are done with the type of resources that we have; with the people that we have; with the intellect that we possess; we can do a lot more.
“We can take care of the basics and we can actually, indeed, begin to shift our mindsets to Anambra becoming an exemplary state where we can all be proud of”, Ozigbo said.
The governorship hopeful said that he crafted his manifesto from the feedbacks he received from the people during his engagements with them
“My manifesto is a product of my engagement with Ndi Anambra. I toured the 21 Local Government Areas, and in most cases, over seven times. And when I did engage our people, my simple question used to be ‘what do you need or want from your next governor?’
“From the feedback, we were able to decipher that indeed what we need in one LGA is different from what we need in another. What our younger generation needs is different from the needs of our elders. And what our men need is different from what our women need.
“So, we crafted what we call Ka Anambra Chawapu manifesto. How do we do things differently? How do we leverage the power inherent in Anambra people? How do we begin to challenge the status quo?
“We can’t keep doing the same thing all the time and expect different result. I am here to tell our people, indeed, that Anambra can do more and achieve more”, Ozigbo stated.
By and large HURIWA and over 205 other affiliate bodies in the Nigerian Human Rights Community have hereby endorsed Valentine Ozigbo as the best candidate for the next office of the Governor of Anambra State.
Below is a report on Anambra state and what the Human rights watch stated few years back-: Case Study B: Anambra State
“Anambra is a very hot place, a place where everyone has to be very careful.” — PDP “Godfather” and Board of Trustees Member, Chris Uba, Enugu, February 12, 2007
Anambra State lies near the geographic heart of Nigeria’s Igbo-dominated southeast. Since 1999 the violence, corruption, and “godfatherism” occurring elsewhere in Nigeria have run rampant in Anambra. But Anambra also evinces some examples of the tenuous reasons for optimism that systemic abuses could be reversed if the federal government would support far-reaching reform.
Godfatherism in Anambra State
A wealthy member of the powerful Uba political family, Chris Uba is an iconic example of the godfather phenomenon in Nigeria. When Human Rights Watch visited his home in Enugu (situated on a street named after himself) in early 2007, he proudly displayed a large collection of luxury vehicles and a police car with blacked-out license plates that he said belonged to him and not to the police. Security men with handguns tucked inside of their belts wandered about the compound.
Chris Uba, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees, was at the apex of his power during the 2003 elections, when he “sponsored” PDP candidates and rigged their election to office across Anambra. After that election he publicly declared himself “the greatest godfather in Nigeria,” noting that “this is the first time an individual single-handedly put in position every politician in the state.”228
Among the politicians Chris Uba “sponsored” in 2003 was PDP gubernatorial candidate Chris Ngige. The terms of their relationship were spelled out in remarkably explicit fashion in a written “contract” and “declaration of loyalty” that Ngige signed prior to the election. Chris Uba provided Human Rights Watch with a copy of this document to bolster his contention that Ngige later failed to live up to the terms of their agreement.
Ngige promised in writing to “exercise and manifest absolute loyalty to the person of Chief Chris Uba as my mentor, benefactor and sponsor” and agreed to allow Uba control over all important government appointments and the awarding of all government contracts. The contract referred to Governor Ngige as the “Administrator” and to the unelected Uba as “Leader/Financier.”
It also empowered Uba to “avenge himself in the way and manner adjudged by him as fitting and adequate” (emphasis in original) in case of any breach by Ngige that could not be settled through mediation.These documents, which spelled out the subordination of the Governor to Chris Uba in some detail, are printed as an annex to this report.
In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Ngige did not deny that Chris Uba rigged his election into office but claims that he tried to break away from Uba’s control immediately after the 2003 election.This was no easy task; Ngige said that from the moment he assumed office, Uba was continually “making personal demands that I go to the treasury and take money and give it to him.”
Ngige also claims that shortly before his inauguration, armed men broke into his home and forced him, at gunpoint, to sign a pledge that he would pay Chris Uba the sum of N3 billion ($23 million) immediately after assuming office.233 In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Uba denied that he ever demanded cash payments from Governor Ngige.234
Relations between Ngige and Uba deteriorated rapidly. In July 2003 Governor Ngige was kidnapped by armed policemen and forced at gunpoint to sign a “letter of resignation.”235 In an interview with Human Rights Watch Ngige alleged that Uba was responsible for this and cites the episode as illustrative of why, even as governor, he could not turn to the police for help against Uba’s attempts at extortion.236 Uba dismissed the allegations of extortion as being completely without any basis in fact.237
Ngige’s “resignation” was eagerly accepted by the State House of Assembly despite the circumstances under which it was obtained. One Anambra State legislator told Human Rights Watch that at the time most members of the legislature were “in bondage” to Chris Uba in much the same manner as Ngige.238
Ngige successfully petitioned to have his “resignation” thrown out by the federal courts and remained in office but quickly found himself under siege yet again. In 2004 thugs armed with firearms and crude explosives attacked Government House in Awka and burned part of it to the ground while policemen stood aside and watched.239 Other gangs then staged several attacks on other government buildings throughout the state.240 As many as 24 people were killed during the ensuing violent clashes and looting.241
Ngige—like much of the Nigerian press and many civil society groups—alleges that Chris Uba was behind the attack.242 Several well-placed sources told Human Rights Watch that Chris Uba had recruited an Ogoni youth leader from Rivers State to help organize the attack on Government House in conjunction with thugs sourced locally in Anambra.243 Chris Uba denied any involvement in the matter.244 The police’s failure to investigate who was behind the attack, and specifically Uba’s alleged involvement, stands as a stark example of the impunity he has consistently enjoyed.” WHY ANAMBRA VOTERS CHOICE MUST BE RESPECTED BY INEC AND BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:
Election is regarded worldwide as a fundamental human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, recognizes the integral role that transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory government.
There are various electoral laws in Nigeria that govern the process of electing people into political offices. The major laws governing the electoral process in Nigeria are as follows:
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999
The Electoral Act 2010;
The INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2019.
Some of the crucial provisions of the above laws will be examined individually in detail.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999
The major law that governs the electoral process in Nigeria is the 1999 Constitution (as altered). The Constitutional provisions relating to elections in Nigeria will be highlighted below;
Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association- Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution provides for the right of persons to form a political party or association. It states that every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union, or any other association for the protection of his interest, provided that the provisions of this Section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by the Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission concerning the Political Parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.
Qualifications for Election- Section 65,105 and 131 of the Constitution provides that a person shall be qualified for election in the various elective offices if he;
He is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 35years.
A member of the House of Representatives if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 25years.
He has been educated up to at least a secondary school leaving certificate or its equivalent;
He is a member of a political party and he is sponsored by that party.
Disqualifications- Section 66,107, 137,182 of the Constitution provides that no person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or the House of Representative if the following exists;
He has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than Nigeria or has declared allegiance to such other party.
Under the Law in any part of Nigeria, he has been adjudged to be a lunatic or declared to be of unsound mind.
He is under a sentence of death imposed on him by a competent Court of Law or Tribunal in Nigeria or is under a sentence of imprisonment or fine for an offense involving dishonesty or fraud or for any other offense imposed on him by any court or tribunal or substituted authority.
Within a period of less than ten (10) years before the date of the election to the office of the President, he has been convicted and sentenced for an offense involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of contravention of the code of conduct.
He is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Nigeria or any other country.
He is a person employed in the civil or public service of the Federation or State and does not resign, withdraw or retire from the employment at least 30 days before the date of the election.
He is a member of any secret society.
He has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial committee of inquiry or an administrative panel of inquiry or a tribunal and which the indictment has been accepted by the Federal or state government.
He has presented a forged certificate to the independent national electoral commission.
Supervision of Election- Section 78 of the Constitution provides that the registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Restriction on Formation of Political Parties- Section 222 of the Constitution provides for the restriction.
Fair Hearing in Election Petition Cases in Historical Perspectives
The case of Paul Unongo v. Aper Aku & Ors44 quickly comes to mind. This case emanated from the governorship election held all over the country on the 13th July, 1983. The appellant contested the said election with the 1st respondent who then was also the incumbent governor of Benue State. The 1st respondent was returned as having been elected as the winner of the election. Aggrieved with this decision, the appellant lodged a petition to the High Court Makurdi claiming that the 1st respondent was not duly returned and that it was the appellant who should have been declared the winner instead.
All sorts of technical objections were put in the petitioner’s way. The High Court struck out the petition on the grounds that the joinder of the governor was unconstitutional because he enjoys immunity under the constitution. The court equally stated that the non-inclusion of the name of the occupier of the address of the petitioner for service was fatal to the petition. On appeal to the Court of Appeal, their Lordships did not waste time in upturning the decision of the court below on all grounds.
However, the court could not grant the consequential relief of “restoring the petition and ordering a resumption of hearing in the trial court” on the ground that such an order would run foul of the provisions of section 140(2) of the Electoral Act which prescribed a time limit for the determination of an election petition. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the effect of section 140(2) of the Electoral Act 1982 on the jurisdiction of the court and the principle of separation of powers were strongly canvassed. T
he Supreme Court stood firm to uphold the constitutional right to fair hearing of the litigant under section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 and asserted the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the constitution.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko is the National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and Association of African Writers on Human & People’s Rights (AFRIRIGHTS) and he wrote in from Abuja