A civil advocacy group has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad; Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and the National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata, over the non- inauguration of 14 members of the Edo State House of Assembly-elect.
The group, Strategic Advocacy Outreach, Edo State House of Assembly 14, in the petition dated January 27, sought the urgent intervention of the relevant authorities to save Edo State from alleged present and future dictatorial tendencies if the 14 lawmakers served out their term without participating in the lawmaking process in the state for which they were elected in the first place.
The petition signed by the group’s Convener, Mr. John Mayaki, was titled: ‘Democracy in Detention in Edo State House of Assembly: An Appeal for Rescue.’
The group, in the petition accused the Governor of Edo State of acts relating to dictatorship when he in 2019 inaugurated only 10 members of the lawmakers-elect leaving out the 14 because they allegedly “nursed a political ambition opposed to his”.
They claimed that if nothing was quickly done to swear-in the 14 lawmakers, it may spell doom for democracy in Edo State. “Mr. Godwin Obaseki has enthroned himself a paramount King above crucial constitutional limitations such as clearly defined power limits, full accountability to the people through their freely chosen representatives, and checks and balance.
“With the term of the excluded members about to expire, despite not having served a single day of the mandate they freely won, the Governor is on the verge of winning this assault on democracy. His victory, if allowed to be perfected, will set a dangerous precedence that could, in a matter of years, set Nigeria firmly on the path of dictatorship where one man could use the very instruments of democracy to undermine it by placing other arms – and other important freedoms – on a leash”, the petition read in part.
Adding that to allow the 14 members to sit out a full term without serving the interests of their people is to imperil democracy and embolden others do same or even more in the future.
“We must therefore act quickly to rescue democracy and lay down a marker that ideals such as constitutional supremacy and respect for the choices of citizens are not just mere words used in speeches, but guiding principles of our society and the values that undergird our harmony and peaceful co-existence.
“For its symbolic meaning and to demonstrate the triumph of democracy and the people’s will, the 14 lawmakers must be inaugurated and empowered to serve the mandate they won in a free, fair and open contest,” the group stressed.