Nigerian Government should respect people’s choice

Today, the lCJ expressed its concern over the recent interference in the democratic process in Nigeria.

On 12 June 1993, the Government of Nigeria announced the cancellation of the results of the presidential elections and annulled two decrees which pertained to the transition from military to civilian rule.

President Babangida also announced the introduction of new qualifications for presidential candidates – conditions clearly designed to exclude the present candidates from Nigerian presidential elections.

These measures, including the placing of police on high alert, clearly portray the government’s determination to manipulate the transition from ten years of undemocratic and dictatorial military rule to a civilian administration based upon the consent of the people. The government, however, reaffirmed its intention to hand over power to a democratically elected candidate – who would meet the conditions – on 27 August.

It seems clear, from the results, which are widely considered to have been the result of orderly elections free from any serious irregularities, that Social Democrat Moshood Abiola defeated National Republican Convention rival Bashir Tofa.

The exercise of arbitrary power, by President Babangida, after the election results were known, and the cynical reference to an earlier judicial order to postpone the elections thus purporting to present himself as a champion of judicial independence and the “protector of the legal system” raises grave doubts regarding the avowed aim of respecting the expressed will of the Nigerian people.

The repercussions for Nigeria and its neighbouring States should be a source of concern for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Cairo. The OAU summit is urged to send a clear message to the Nigerian head of State to take steps to avoid the worsening of the political situation. The ICJ calls on the Nigerian government to reverse its decision to annul the 12 June elections and to allow a smooth transition to democracy.

NewsPress releases