Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nigeria court bars military from deploying

Nigeria court bars military from deploying around polling stations - lawyer.

* Nigeria to hold presidential vote on March 28
* Opposition feared troops might have intimidated voters
* 82 percent of registered Nigerians collect voting cards

(Recasts with court ruling on Nigeria military)
By Oludare Mayowa and Julia Payne
LAGOS/ABUJA, March 24 (Reuters) - The Nigerian federal high
court in Lagos has barred the military from deploying around
polling stations during March 28 national elections, the lawyer
for the parliamentarian who brought the case said on Tuesday.
Opposition leader Femi Gbajabiamila had argued that any such
deployment would violate the constitution, lawyer Ijeoma
Njemanze said, amid opposition fears that soldiers could be used
to intimidate voters.
The ruling, made on Monday by Justice Ibrahim Buba, does not
affect troops already dispatched to northeast Nigeria, where
they are needed to battle an Islamist insurgency, she added.
The tight election pits President Goodluck Jonathan against
former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. It was meant to take
place on Feb. 14, but was delayed by six weeks because the
military said it could not guarantee security, especially in the
northeast, where Islamists have waged a six-year insurgency.
Jonathan is seeking a second elected term, in the
closest-fought election since the end of military rule in 1999.
If the military deploys despite the court order, the
opposition is likely to use that fact to dispute the result
should it lose the parliamentary and presidential ballot.
The militarys role in the electoral process, including
pressing for the vote to be delayed, has alarmed some Nigerians,
reminding them of the bad old days of dictatorship, which
included the annulment of a 1993 vote by a military government.
The case was brought after an outcry over the heavy
deployment of troops in southwestern Ekiti and Osun states last
year. Reports in the press alleged that soldiers had conspired
to intimidate voters and rig a by-election in Ekiti -- a charge
the military and ruling party declined to deny or confirm.
Electoral officials said on Tuesday about 82 percent of
Nigerian voters had collected the cards they need to present at
polling stations to take part in Saturdays election, leaving 18
percent of registered voters disenfranchised.
After the decision to postpone the vote from February, there
has been a concerted push against Boko Haram militants,
especially by neighbours Chad and Niger, chasing them out of
much of the territory they had previously controlled.
There had been fears that millions of Nigerians in areas
affected by the insurgency, including a million internal
refugees, would be unable to vote.
Wherever it is safe and people have resumed normal life, we
will conduct elections, election commission head Attahiru Jega
said. Weve also got arrangements to conduct elections for
internally displaced persons. We have designated centres ...
where IDPs will be able to vote.
The commission said about 56.7 million voter cards had been
collected by Nigerians. Jega said distribution had now ceased,
apart from a handful of cards that had just been produced and
would be handed out in the next few days.

(Reporting By Julia Payne; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by
Mark Trevelyan and Crispian Balmer)


This court judgment reflects how important the independence of the judiciary from the government for protecting democracy, which should be the case in so many other Africans countries like Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and many other countries where the Judiciary is politically driven which effects justice, the rule of law and democracy, which is strongly condemned by legal scholars in the region.   


© Thomson Reuters 2015. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters is not liable for any errors or delays in Thomson Reuters content, or for any actions taken in reliance on such content. 'Thomson Reuters' and the Thomson Reuters logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.
For additional information on other Thomson Reuters Services please visit the Thomson Reuters public web site http://www.thomsonreuters.com/.

Sent from my iPad

No comments:

Post a Comment