Group Petitions Buhari, CJN, Others Over Edo Assembly Legal Quandary

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A pro-democracy group, the Strategy Advocacy Outreach (SAO), has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Justice Muhammad Tanko, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Malami Abubakar and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata, over the lingering Edo House of Assembly crisis, which has left 14 elected members on the sidelines, unable to offer representation to their constituencies.

Signed by the group convener, Mr. John Mayaki and dispatched on Thursday, the petition said the situation amounted to a “detention of democracy in Edo State” and urged the relevant leaders to take urgent actions to resolve the crisis with a view to ensuring the inauguration of the alleged “sidelined members.”

Citing the danger this incident poses to Nigeria’s democracy, Mayaki explained that the continued exclusion of the elected members violates the protected rights of citizens to choose their representatives in government and for their voices to be heard before actions are taken on important matters of state.

The group lamented that for over two years now, millions of electorates have essentially been shut out of governance and their choices at the polls dismissed over what it described as a bid by political actors to restrict participation only to those with the same partisan leanings.

According to the group, the legislative arm of government represents the pillar of democracy, given its checks and balance role and constitutional mandate to ensure that policies enjoy the backing of the majority before they become law.

Reading the state of affairs in Edo State, the group said elected members owe allegiance only to their constituencies, and alleged that situation in which swearing-in is made contingent upon subservience to the executive arm of government is an abuse of power that could prove the death knell for democracy in Nigeria if allowed to become a precedent.

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The group, therefore pleaded with the President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the President of the NBA to wade into the matter and ensure that the legal obstruction to the swearing-in of the elected members is removed to preserve the sacredness of elections and restore the faith of the people in their constitutional rights to determine for themselves who should represent their interests without any overriding interventions, especially when such interventions are driven by self-serving partisan interests not shared by the people.

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