Guber poll: Lawyers for Peter Obi ask police to take action against APC thugs in Lagos
Good day, Gentlemen of the Press and fellow Lagosians,
It is few days to the Gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly Elections. Our dear Lagos State is among the states that will be going to the polls to elect a governor and its state legislators. Over the past few weeks, we have observed the type of hateful and inciteful campaigns, threats and attacks being sponsored by the supporters of the ruling Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressive Congress against Lagosians and supporters of Labour Party and a particular ethnic group who live and conduct their business in Lagos State.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provided for the fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens of Nigeria. But we have seen these rights being trampled upon and breached by supporters of the ruling party in the state. Suffice to say that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies have been quiet on these issues.
The Electoral Act 2022 in Sections 92, 93, and 97 made it an offence for a person, candidate, or political party to campaign with abusive language, promote or instigate an attack on a political party or their candidate, or the use of force to compel or refrain a person from supporting a candidate or campaigning based on tribe or sectional reason. Before our very eyes, we have witnessed the supporters and even candidates of the Lagos APC flout these provisions of the law without any action by the commission or the security agencies.
The most recent of these series of offences was the attack on Lagos State Labour Party gubernatorial candidate Arc. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and his campaign team in Epe on Saturday, March 11, 2023, where they went for a rally. The internet is filled with videos of these threats of violence and posts on social media by known faces, including chats from different WhatsApp groups where plans are being hatched to intimidate, harass, and harm Lagosians, Labour Party supporters and Obidients.
The traditional rulers are not left out in being used to instigate these crimes. Some have imposed the Oro Rite to hold during this election period. The underlying plan is to use it for voters suppression and voters intimidation within their locality and this is unacceptable.
The Lagos State Police should move in to forestall the breakdown of law and order in these communities.
During the Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Lagos State, we received reports and witnessed voters’ suppressions, coercion, threats, disruption of voting, and actual violence in areas regarded as Labour Party strongholds, while Labour Party supporters, including our members, were attacked by thugs loyal to APC at the Ward and Local Government collation centres. Most of these happened under the watch of Armed Police officers who were supposed to protect those centres and citizens there.
We believe that every citizen has the right to vote for the candidate of their choice and participate in the electoral process. This is a fundamental right in a democracy. It is the duty of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, other security agencies within the state, and INEC to ensure that Lagosians are protected from these anti-democratic elements in society and to enable well meaning citizens to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.
INEC should assert its independence and impartiality by making sure that these offenders are arrested and prosecuted according to the law. The security agencies, most especially the police, should rise up to their constitutional and legal roles in fulfilling their duties to protect Lagosians during campaigns and at the polls, unless they want to tell Lagosians that the police in Lagos is compromised and that they are now a willing tool in the hands of the ruling APC in Lagos.
We also call on all political parties, particularly the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressive Congress, to ensure that its supporters, thugs, and candidates conduct themselves in a civil
manner during the remaining days of these campaigns and at the polls.
Finally, we encourage all peace-loving Lagosians to come out en masse to vote on Saturday
March 18, 2023.
For: Lawyers for Peter Obi (Lagos State Chapter)
Precious T. Ukusanjuya, Esq.
Oludare Amusan Esq
Coordinator, Lagos State Chapter Director Contact and Mobilisation