By Kehinde Adegbuyi
Address Delivered On Monday, June 21, 2014 By The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC) On The State Of The Nation Regarding The Growing Misuse Of Federal Power And The On-Going FG-Sponsored Removal Of State Governors, The Latest Being The Move To Remove The Governor Of Nasarawa State, Umaru Al-Makura
Ladies and gentlemen
We welcome you to the Press Briefing of the Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC). You may have noticed what has been happening in Nigeria for the past few months. There is a kind of desperation for the 2015 Presidential election. It appears that in our country, nothing matters any longer except the 2015 Presidential contest. It appears that the election is now far more important than everything including human lives. It appears it is even more important than governance.
Barely two weeks ago, the governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako was removed based on series of allegations leveled against him by the lawmakers. These same lawmakers had earlier in 2013 passed a vote of confidence on the same Governor whose only offence was that he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), the party of President Goodluck Jonathan, to the All Progressive Congress, (APC) which is the leading opposition party in the country as at today.
The lawmakers have been accused of collecting 300,000 dollars each. Knowing the history of Nigeria and the forms of corruption in the country, this is not impossible.
In Nasarawa State, the same episode is repeating itself. Last Thursday, some lawmakers accused the Governor, Tanko Al-Makura on missing local government joint account funds between June 2011 to April 2012 and from January to July last year, 2013.
The lawmakers averred that the offenses amounted to gross violation of section 162 (7 and 8) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended. Already, 20 lawmakers out of 24 have signed the impeachment notice. He has also been accused of spending over 13 million on his wife’s trips to Abuja.
Since this move, there has been protest in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, leading to the avoidable deaths of at least two people. Curious enough, the impeachment move came three days after the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the state earlier on Monday where he had visited to inaugurate the Ola Rice Farm at Rukubi in the Doma Local Government Area of the State.
Why we support the removal of governors who contravene the laws, the basis of which they were elected in the first place, we however strongly condemn removals induced by financial gains of the lawmakers. That is exactly what is happening in Nigeria today. The Presidency is bent on taking control of all the 36 states, thereby threatening the plural content of Nigerian democratic culture.
For instance, we wonder why the governor, Al-Makura is being asked to go two years after he may have committed some of these alleged crimes. What were the lawmakers waiting for in the last two years? Why did they have to wait until his defection before the threat of his removal?
We warn that this self-seeking plot aimed at strengthening the Presidency and breathing down the neck of the opposition is in itself a huge threat to democracy and the rule of law. It underscores the whole essence of peoples’ power when a man elected by the people is to be removed by the Presidency simply because the subject decided to change his affiliation with a particular political party. We in the human rights community hereby condemn the action of the Nasarawa lawmakers as despicable, self-serving, and corrupt and that the action portrays them as lacking in any shred of character and dignity.
We hereby make the following declaration:
-That the rash of impeachments is not informed by any rational thinking, neither is it driven by genuine interest of the masses, but as part of the grand plot to ensure the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) at the February, 2014 Presidential election.
-We assert that President Goodluck Jonathan has the constitutional right to re-contest the Presidential election; however, he stands the risk of undermining the whole democratic process if he continues to destabilize and curse the very route he is expected to thread in his second term journey.
-The attacks on the opposition political parties is a clear indication of an act of intolerance and the desperate surge for a one party state by the ruling PDP.
-The removal of the Governor of Adamawa State and the planned removal of the governor of Nasarawa State is a reflection of corruption within the political class, naked abuse of power and Presidential recklessness. These acts can spur political upheavals that may undermine the entire political process.
-That we in the human rights community stand by the ordinary people of Nasarawa state. We urge the people of Nasarawa state to rise up to the occasion by blacklisting lawmakers that have been bribed to impeach the governor of the state.
-That these lawmakers should be immediately recalled by the voters in the affected constituencies in Nasarawa State.
-We condemn in strong terms attempts by the Federal Government to destabilize states controlled by the opposition in the desperation for the 2015 Presidential election.
-We urge the Nasarawa State House of Assembly to resist attempts by the Presidency to lure them into acting against the wish of the people of the state.
-We hereby launch the “Campaign Against Impunity and Dictatorship” in Nigeria using the Nasarawa State political situation as a launching pad. We urge you all to join in this crusade.
Submitted by Kehinde Adegbuyi