11th February, 2015
Lagos lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Femi Falana, on Wednesday warned that disturbing developments in recent times are clear signals that democracy is about to be truncated in Nigeria as it was on 12 June,1993, when the presidential election won by MKO Abiola was annuled by military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.
Abiola, who ran on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, defeated Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention, but Babangida annulled the election, leading to a crisis that ended with Sani Abacha toppling the Interim Government headed by Ernest Shonekan on 17 November, 1993.
Falana was speaking at an event sponsored by the United States Consulate in Lagos to mark the African-American History Month, an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.
“This morning, two former military heads of state spoke against military coup d’etat. I am saying this because the CDHR (Committee for the Defence of Human Rights) played a leading role in ensuring that we have this rickety democracy. Some of us went to jail several times against these criminals who are now trying to roll back the hand of the clock,” Falana said.
“Two of them, the Senate President said in September last year and it was well reported that ‘election is not on the table, not on the agenda now. We are fighting war.’ This fellow, Dasuki, who is canvassing for postponement, and has had his way, was Aide De Camp to Babangida. He and Mark were among the two Colonels that said over their dead bodies would Babangida hand over to Abiola. Those who plotted the June 12 annulment are back,” Falana said.
Falana added: “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent revolutions inevitable. We are warning them, enough is enough. Our people are languishing in poverty and you say we cannot even change our oppressors.”
Falana asked rhetorically: “How can you say we cannot even excercise that right? That is the greatest violation of our rights.”
He said the election must hold and whoever wins must be allowed to govern the country.
Falana also blasted religious leaders who were said to have endorsed President Jonathan, saying “this election is not about religion. It is not about ethnicity. It is not about not having shoes. This election should also be about others who have not acquired shoes.
“We must not allow the enemies of democracy to reduce the ongoing campaign to that of ethnicity and religion.”
He added: “We need to ensure that the winner of the election will ensure that every Nigerian child has many shoes.”
The United States Consul-General in Lagos, Jeffrey Hawkins, called on Nigerians to remain peaceful and excercise their right through the power of the ballot just like it happened in America during Dr Martin Luther King’s days.
He discouraged violence and said the United States will continue to support Nigeria.