Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, yesterday called on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA to prevail on its members to imbibe ethical conducts and resist the temptation of using technicalities that lead to avoidable delay in court proceedings.
The governor who made the observation while declaring open a Conference on the Review of Performance of Election Petition Tribunals in Nigeria, organized by the NBA, faulted a system where those found to have perpetrated electoral fraud in previous elections go unpunished, insisting that the NBA must rise to the occasion to amend the law and ensure justice.
He is of the view that to guarantee credible elections the Independent National Electoral Commission must be overhauled.
“As members of the elite class we must play our part in ensuring that INEC conducts its affairs responsibly. We have seen the difference in the last election when you compare it to the previous one. Everybody agree that INEC under Iwu was more of a fraud and the international observers, local observers and the world said so, and Nigerians were unanimous that with Prof. Jega things have improved,” the governor noted.
He however noted that, “Something is still missing which the NBA should engage. They should rub minds on how we can improve the electoral system and it should not be limited to how to manage the cases in court. The starting point is that this country has no business allowing people who have been established as fraudulent to remain in INEC”.
The governor maintained that under the old electoral act, the previous executive interpreted the law to mean that unless you are a card carrying member of a political party you were not eligible to be appointed as a commissioner in INEC.
“Which meant therefore that INEC under Iwu was made up of card carrying members of a political party, and it is not difficult to find out which party, it could only have been the ruling party at the federal level. The new electoral act has amended that section, which says, you have to be a member of a political party in other to be eligible to be appointed to INEC, if that is so, it follows in my view that all those who were in INEC before as a result of their membership of a political party automatically cease to be eligible for such appointment.
“How can we explain that just three weeks ago, a PDP card carrying member from Edo state and a blood relation of a PDP leader was reappointed into INEC, what is the NBA view about that. Why do we allow them to make wrong decisions and come back to shed crocodile tears “Comrade Oshiomhole added.
According to him, it will be a good day for Nigerians, for the forces of Democracy and good governance if the Bar, under Daudu goes to President Jonathan and insist that he cannot reappoint this man for several reasons which include that he was a card carrying member of PDP and secondly he has presided over elections that were nullified by competent court of law and therefore the facts of his incompetence has been established by a court of Appeal and therefore he is not eligible for reappointment.
The governor also described the agitation for a Sovereign National Conference as un necessary and capable of over heating the polity.
Welcoming participants to the Conference, the President, Nigerian Bar Association , Joseph Bodunrin Daudu , SAN, who described the Conference as apt said the inability to review the electoral process, particularly election tribunals has contributed to electoral irregularities.
He said the Conference will critically examine the laws guiding elections, various amendments and activities of stakeholders in the electoral process.
In a goodwill message, Chairman, INEC, represented by Mrs. Thelma Iremiren expressed the determination of the electoral body to sustain and improve on the success recorded in the last general election.
Similarly, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Prof Deji Adekunle re -affirmed President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to the fight against corruption and the promotion of the rule of law
CPS to Edo State Governor
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole