Human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has described the postponement of 2015 general elections by six weeks as a coup against the constitution by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) and the security chiefs.
Accordingly, he called for the prosecution of the NSA and the service chiefs, saying “even though the NSA is a member of the National Security Council, he cannot usurp the constitutional responsibilities of the body with the connivance of the service chiefs”.
In a statement he issued Sunday condemning the postponement of the polls, the Lagos lawyer alleged that since President Goodluck Jonathan was unable to convince the National Assembly to perfect his tenure elongation bid “on spurious grounds, the service chiefs allowed themselves to be manipulated to subvert the democratic process.
“Thus, by causing the election to be postponed, the NSA and the security chiefs have staged a coup against the Constitution. They are liable to be prosecuted for the grave offence at the appropriate time”, he added.
Besides, Falana argued that if the Boko Haram war is not defeated by the Army and their Republics of Chad, Cameroon and Niger counterparts in the next six weeks, the security chiefs would likely “ask for another postponement of the General Election on the grounds that the operations in the North-east region have not been successfully concluded.
“As such, extension cannot be accommodated under the Electoral Act and the Constitution; the democratic process may be terminated by the security chiefs to pave way for the much touted Interim National Government”, Falana alleged.
Warning Nigerians to beware of the “Ides of March”, the rights activist further advised democratic forces in the country to be prepared for a long drawn out battle for the restoration of civil rule.
This, he said, had become incumbent since some of the Colonels, who he claimed played a dominant role in the criminal annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, have taken over the security of the country.
Recalling the advice Dasuki to INEC in London to postpone the elections, Falana said NSA’s reason then for his “unsolicited advice” was that the INEC needed time to distribute permanent voter cards to all registered voters.
“But as soon as the INEC announced that all arrangements had been put in place for the distribution of the remaining permanent voter cards in readiness for the February 14 election, the NSA began to sing a different tune”, he observed.
He further argued that as an adviser to the president on national security, Dasuki lacks constitutional powers to give direct or indirect advice to INEC on what to do.
“Indeed, there is no statutory nexus between the INEC and the NSA to warrant the purported demand for the postponement of the General Election. To that extent, the NSA acted illegally. The INEC rightly rejected the unwarranted interference from the NSA”, he said.
He added that the NSA and the security chiefs were curiously invited to the council of state meeting convened by the president merely to convince the council members to endorse the postponement of the election.
The statement further noted: “To their utter dismay, they failed to achieve the illegal objective as the Council declined to support the postponement of the election.
“The Presidency had wanted the advisory body to usurp the constitutional duty of INEC by taking a “decision” on the postponement of the election.
“In a desperate bid to blackmail the INEC to postpone the election the NSA wrote a letter to the INEC to the effect that the armed forces could not provide security for the election because of the operations in the north east region.
“By writing directly to the INEC on the security situation in the north east region the NSA usurped the functions of the National Security Council.
“It is pertinent to point out that the security chiefs are not members of the National Security Council, neither are they members of the Nigeria Police Council. Therefore, they lack the constitutional power to make any authoritative pronouncement on the security of the nation.
“Since the NSA and the service chiefs acted illegally and mala fide the INEC ought to have rejected their politically motivated request for the postponement of the Election”.
Falana observed that Professor Attahiru Jega’s reliance on section 25 of the Electoral Act to shift the polls was totally misleading.
He said, “The provision does not support the postponement of a general election in the entire country but “in the area or areas” where there is violence or actual threat of a breakdown of law and order.
“Since the reason for the postponement of any election must be ‘cogent and verifiable’ it is crystal clear from the press conference addressed by Professor Jega last night that the INEC did not verify the bogus claim of the NSA and the security chiefs as required by the law”.
He said for saying they would not provide security in aid of civil authorities pursuant to section 217 of the Constitution, the security chiefs have committed the offence of mutiny contrary to section 52 of the armed Forces Act.
He said, “Contrary to the mistaken belief of the INEC leadership the armed forces have no role to play in the electoral process.
“Since it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force to maintain law and order during elections the INEC should have called off the bluff of the security chiefs. More so, that the Inspector-General of Police had confirmed the readiness of the Police to provide security for the election.
“Just last week, the federal high court sitting in Sokoto declared illegal and unconstitutional the involvement of soldiers in election duties. That judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria”.