NLC’s interference in Edo election is uncalled for –By Zainab Suleiman -Okino

The apprehension over the upcoming gubernatorial election in Edo state is not without basis.This is because of the seemingly violent build-up to the election and the bad blood it has created. Again, this is unexpected, considering the high stakes and theatrics of the dramatis personae. But this concern was further heightened by the alarm raised by the Nigeria Labour Congress over what it called dangerous signals. The acting president of the congress, Comrade Kiri Mohammed, sounded the alarm over INEC’s purported plan to use the federal civil servants as ad-hoc staff to conduct the election, as against the previous method of

using National Youth Service Corps members. Their note of caution, according to the statement, arose because “one of the contestants, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the sitting governor of the state, has publicly complained at various times about sinister plans by some politicians to manipulate the election…”

The NLC’s statement is astounding. What is their business in Edo election? It amounts to

meddlesomeness on the part of congress at the national level to interfere in purely political matter of a state that is only a fraction of the 36 states of the federation. What is NLC’s locus standi in an issue that is remotely connected to the welfare of workers and far removed from the collective struggle of the labour movement? We all know Governor Oshiomhole’s antecedent as a former NLC president, but we do not expect him to use his former platform to further his political career. Does it mean that if another governorship candidate from another party complains about his opponent before an election in future, the NLC will come to the defence of that candidate? Will it (NLC) replicate the “gesture” in the 36 states? How justified is the NLC to be seen to be supporting one candidate in an election that every Edo person has a stake and will participate in, despite their differences and political affiliations? We want and hope INEC will conduct an acceptable, free and fair election in Edo state and elsewhere, but the NLC’s  position is at best distractive and could be destructive to democracy and even the congress itself.

And the quick-fix quagmire continues  .

My secretary drew my attention to the article reproduced below. It was first published on this page on July 26, 2011, entitled Boko Haram and the quick-fix quagmire. He observed that the points I raised then are even more poignant today than ever, and suggested that I should recall it. The situation has since escalated, while the government has lost focus and hold on the Boko Haram, whose fire has continued to rage

The column was a response to the prosecution of the Boko Haram leader’s extra-judicial killing in 2009. Those being tried are ACP J.B. Abang, ACP Akeera, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, ACP Mada Buba, Sgt Adamu Gado, PC Anthony Samuael and PC Linus Luka.

Since then, so many high-profile arrests and trials have been on, but none has been concluded. Boko Haram has since become more daring in suicide attacks, and government’s response through JTFs leaves sour taste in the mouth. For example the arrest, stage-managed escape and re-arrest of Kabiru Sokoto, the alleged mastermind of the Christmas Day Suleja church bombing and that of Senator Muhammed Ndume are either stalled or are still pending.

Meanwhile, innocent people are languishing in prison over framed up charges such as the case of a woman, Fatima Dahiru  who stormed our office on an SOS mission last week over the arrest of her husband, Dahiru Muhammad Hassan, in their Maiduguri home in July last year. According to Fatima, her husband is a politician, an ANPP youth leader who at one time was being haunted by Boko Haram. But he was eventually arrested by the JTF on suspicion of being a member of the sect and brought to Abuja, after spending about seven months in a

military facility in Maiduguri. After four  months of uncertainty about the whereabouts of their breadwinner, it was only  last week that she re-established contact with him  through a contact that was once in the same SARS facility with her husband before his release.

I do not know how far we can go with a comatose justice system and rising criminality. The reluctance to conclude the trial of the gentlemen mentioned above has given vent to insinuations that they may be mere scapegoats in Muhammed Yusuf’s murder saga.

With minor editing, below is the article:

A sudden re-awakening is up in the air; right after the suicide bomb attack on the police headquarters by the Boko Haram sect. It is the beginning of the trial of police officers, in the alleged extra-judicial killing of the Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, his father-in-law, Baa Fugu Muhammed and Buji Foi, a former commissioner in Borno State, and others, two years ago. This is a hasty response to the latest bomb attack, itself a nasty response to the Police’s many mistakes in the Boko Haram case and all other matters of our national life, anyway.

For a case that took place almost two years ago, the question is, why now? Has it not been established that justice delayed is justice denied?

The security agencies appear confused about the Boko Haram phenomenon. At the last count, 1,300 people have lost their lives, mostly in collateral damage. However, it took the attack on their headquarters in Abuja to wake the police up from slumber. As a hurriedly packaged response to the reality that Boko Haram has become (rather than the threat it was two years ago), where is the guarantee that the trial would be thorough or that the authority would not falter?

The trial may, at best, amount to just scratching the surface of a potentially explosive issue. Perhaps, if this had taken place a year ago, this orgy of violence would have been avoided. Who knows? Also, why did it have to take the international media’s searchlight and revelation, that the sect members were murdered and not killed in combat before the government began to show interest? This surely is yet another fire brigade approach that

cannot do the nation any good. Nigeria is a nation in search of justice, justice not in terms of extra-judicial execution, but justice to the people is a panacea to pervasive poverty and unemployment. It is the antidote to our leaders’ appropriation of the nation’s shared patrimony, the feeling of alienation and denied opportunities, which could lead to wrong indoctrination.

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