No Elected Person Should Assume Office Till Cleared By Tribunal – HURIWA

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Friday, backed the Archbishop emeritus of the Catholic Dioceses of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan that no politician whose electoral victory is being challenged by opposition parties and co-contestants should be sworn in till the Elections Petitions Tribunal has cleared such politician and disposed of cases against him or her.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the position of the cleric is not in any way out of point as it was part of the recommendations of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais Electoral Commission Reforms that should have been incorporated into the Electoral Act 2022.

The group also carpeted the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, for saying Onaiyekan’s position is “unstatesmanlike”. HURIWA said it is unfortunate that Keyamo has suddenly become an defender of injustice, having dined with politicians, wondering where the Keyamo of the activism and civil rights days departed to.

Onaiyekan on Channels Television on Thursday had said “it doesn’t make much sense” for President-elect Bola Tinubu to be sworn in before the conclusion of the election tribunal which commences on Monday, May 8, 2023.

“There are cases in court that have not been disposed of. That is why we are in an anomalous situation. We have a president-elect whose election is being challenged and the court is handling it. I’m still waiting for the court to tell me who won the election. It doesn’t make much sense to be swearing in people when they are still in court,” the cleric had said.

Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the controversial February 25, 2023 presidential poll, top contestants in the election like Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party are in court to challenge the decision of INEC, arguing that Tinubu did not score 25% of votes in the FCT and 24 other states, amongst other reasons they put forward for the nullification of the election.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “80-year-old Archbishop emeritus of the Catholic Dioceses of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has spoken truth to power and this is very courageous of the octogenarian in a country filled with sycophants and hypocrites who form that they are with the masses but yet dine with the oppressors.

“We throw our support for these statements by the Cardinal, advocating the promulgation of the essential recommendations made by the Justice Muhammadu Uwais electoral commission reforms such as ending litigation before swearing in, and the appointment of IINEC chair and commissioners by an independent body outside if the President.
“The Justice Uwais reforms specifically recommended among others:

“Constitutional amendments that would insulate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from the political influences of the executive arm of government in terms of its composition and funding. The power to appoint INEC board was to be transferred from the president to the National Judicial Council (NJC) while its funding was to be a first line charge on the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.

“The functions of the police on election duty stated in the PSC guidelines on code of conduct for officers should be incorporated into the Police Act.

“Election petition was to have time limit even as a Special Electoral Offences Commission was to be set up to try electoral offenders.

“That no elected person should assume office until the case against him/her in the Tribunal or Court is disposed of.”

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