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Senator Ekweremadu takes Elombah’s case to British Parliament

Deputy Senate President,  Ike Ekweremadu has criticised the human rights record of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration particularly  with respect to the constitutional right of freedom of speech and expression.

In a treatise on the state of African and Nigerian politics presented at the House of Commons of the United kingdom, on 25th January 2018, Ekweremadu made particular reference to the case of arrest and detention of publisher of Elombah. Com, Daniel Elombah by the Nigeria Police.

Daniel Elombah and Tim Elombah (Editor) were arrested by the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) in the wee hour of January 1,2018.

They were harrased and molested. The Editor of the online medium,  Tim Elombah was detained for 24 days despite the expiration of his detention order. 

Speaking on the harassment and molestation,  the Deputy Senate President told the British Parliament that a situation where Journalists are arrested and detained as well as enact an Act of Regulating the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is not good for democracy in Africa.

He added that  the provisions in the constitutions of African countries dealing with freedom of speech, association must be respected and protected. 

Ekweremadu said, “The civil society and the press a free and active civil society and press are essential to the health of the democratic process. 

“A situation where the civil society or indeed the press is suppressed as in the recent crackdown on the social media users, online bloggers and publishers across Nigeria such as the arrest and detention of the publisher of Elombah.com, Daniel Elombah as well as the attempt to enact an Act regulating the Non Governmental  Organisations (NGOs) is not good for democracy in Africa.

” It is even hypocritical when former opposition leaders and parties rise to power, but only to turn round, determined to break and burn the very ladder with which they climbed unto power. 

“The enactment of the Freedom of Information (FoI) laws by African countries such as Nigeria, Liberia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Angola,  Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe is highly commendable. 

“The provisions in the constitutions of African countries dealing with freedom of speech, association must be  respected and protected. “

Turning to politics, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said President Muhammadu Buhari administration should not only conducts a credible, free and fair election in 2019, but to also accept the outcome of the election should he and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), fail to win the presidential contest.

In the lecture on “African Politics: The Dynamics and Lessons”, he urged the president to accept the outcome of the presidential election “should he and the All Progressives Congress (APC) fail to win’’.

Ekweremadu also decried sit-tight syndrome by Heads of State in Africa, describing it as a grave danger to democracy in the continent.

He said that his admonition became necessary owing to the pivotal and strategic roles Nigeria was playing in Africa.

The deputy president of the senate pointed out that for the continent to be respected by the rest of the world, Nigeria must not only lead the way but also earn the respect of the world.

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan put Nigeria on the global map as a leading democratic nation when he put in everything to ensure a free and fair election.

“He not only lost the presidential poll as an incumbent, but also willingly conceded defeat.

“In fact, he called the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, and congratulated him even before the announcement of the final results.

“In addition, neither former President Jonathan nor the Peoples Democratic Party challenged the outcome of the election in court.

“Therefore, to whom much is given, much is also expected,’’ he said.

He added that the onus was now on Buhari “to likewise provide a level-playing ground and show uncommon statesmanship if he and his party lose the 2019 presidential election.

“That way, Africa’s biggest democracy will further entrench the culture of peaceful and smooth transfer of power from a ruling party to the opposition in both Nigeria and Africa.

“Any attempt to manipulate the 2019 elections to the advantage of self or party will not augur well for peace and democracy not only in Nigeria, but the entire continent.

“In present age of technology, I will like to see the countries of Africa deploying the latest technology in voter registration, vote counting, and announcement of results.

“We must ensure that the process is sufficiently transparent and unarguably so, such that losers will see and be convinced that they lost fairly.

“That way, election tribunals will be eliminated”.

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