NASS lawmakers tell INEC to announced June 12, 1993 election results

*Lawmakers, (inset) Buhari

National assembly lawmakers have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to release the results of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The lawmakers made the demand following the declaration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day in honour of the acclaimed winner of the election, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday announced the conferment of Nigeria’s highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on Abiola, while his running mate, Babagana Kingibe and late lawyer and human rights activist Chief Gani Fawehinmi were conferred with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

The senate, at its plenary on Thursday, resolved to seek the announcement of the election results and ensure that all allowances and entitlements to the families of Abiola and his running mate, Mr. Babagana Kingibe are made available to them.

Abiola was presumed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election that was annulled by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Senator Abiodun Olujimi who raised the motion lauded the president’s decision to honour Abiola for his contribution to Nigeria’s democracy and further requested the nullified election results be announced.

“Mr. President should endeavour that INEC announces the result of the election held on June 12th and declare Chief MKO Abiola as the winner as his family is still in existence.

“Every right a president enjoys should be given to his family and the then vice president, Baba Gana Kingibe should also enjoy all benefits as the vice president,” she said.

The deputy senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, however, requested that “the Constitution needs to be amended if June 12th is declared as Democracy Day.”

The lawmakers resolved that while June 12 is a public holiday, May 29 should remain the day for the inauguration of newly elected officers – president and all government officials.

For his part, the senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki commended the recognition of Abiola to the struggle for Nigeria’s democracy.

“We recognize the fact that the recognition of Chief MKO Abiola and his contributions have been long overdue.

“We must recognize this good intention. There might be imperfections in how it was implemented, but let us take the good intention behind all of this.

“I am sure that all of us, in one way or the other, have had the opportunity to interact with the man and we felt that the country has not given him and his family the recognition that they truly deserve,” said.

In the House of Representatives, Mr. Wale Raji (APC-Lagos) brought a motion under “Urgent Matter of National Importance’’ on the need to commend Buhari for the June 12 democracy day initiative at the plenary.

Moving the motion, Raji called on INEC to release the result of the 1993 election and declare Moshood Abiola, president-elect.

Raji said that the 1993 presidential election was widely acclaimed as the freest, fairest and most credible election in the nation’s history.

He lamented that the result of the election was however annulled by the then military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

He further said since the return of democracy in 1999, successive governments had failed to recognise June 12 as National Democracy Day.

He urged the house to commend Buhari for the courageous step, adding that it was a sign that he listened to the voice of the people.

For his part, Mr. Chris Azubogu (PDP-Anambra) commended the mover of the motion saying that it was a worthy initiative.

He, however, drew the attention of the house to the exclusion of the electoral umpire, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, who conducted the election, from the list of those honoured.

Azubogu said that Nwosu was a key actor in the June 12 election and risked his life to conduct a free and fair election.

He said that Nwosu should be given due recognition for the role he played in the election as it would encourage future umpires of the electoral process to be free and fair.

For his part, Edward Pwajok (APC-Plateau) drew the attention of the house to the Public Holidays Act which stated that May 29 should be recognised as National Democracy Day.

Pwajok said that for the declaration of the president to take effect, the Public Holidays Act had to be amended.

He said that for a contestant to be referred to as President-elect, he had to be declared winner of the election by the National Returning Officer.

Pwajok also said that there was a court order prohibiting INEC from releasing the result.

He explained that until the court’s decision was stepped down by the same court or a higher court, the decision remained.

In his contribution, Mr. Mojeed Alabi (APC-Osun) said there would have been no May 29, 1999 without June 12, 1993.

He said that prior to the presidential declaration, only Osun recognised June 12 as Democracy Day. Alabi commended Buhari and urged the house to support the motion.

A rowdy session, however, erupted in the chamber when Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) challenged the presidential declaration.

He said that the usurpation of the powers of the Legislature by the Executive was becoming too rampant.

Ossai argued that an Act of Parliament could not be changed by a presidential declaration and that if June 12 must stand, it should follow due process of amendment of the Public Holidays Act.

Members roared in loud voices apparently trying to shut him up while others waved at him to sit down.

Supporting him, Mr. Toby Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu) said that the country must be ruled by law and not by persons or groups.

He said though the intention of the president was good, the declaration needed to be guided by the law, explaining that it was necessary so that nobody would in the future challenge the honour to Abiola.

At that, the rowdiness in the chamber became intense and members were left their seats to engage one another in loud altercations.

When the Speaker of the house, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, restored order, he referred the motion to the committees on justice and rules and business for further consultation.

He mandated the committees to look into the matter and make recommendations to the house before a decision would be taken.

With The Guardian and NAN reports



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