Paul Enenche’s Views On 2023 Election is Not An Incitement To Violence – CSOs Fires Back At APC.
The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations CSOs headed by Amb Phil Roberts has warned the All Progressive Congress APC to desist from making statements that will further heat the polity.
The state comes a few days after the leadership of APC called for the arrest of a clergyman Dr Paul Eneche, Dino Melaye, and Dele Momodu over what they term as “hate speech” and intention to incite violence.
Recall recently Dr Enenche during a Sunday service said that “every attempt at scuttling the will of the people or frustrating the zeal of the youth will produce only unimaginable consequences”, a statement that didn’t go so well with the APC.
In a press conference held on 31st February 2023 by the CSOs, Amb Phill stressed the fact that speaking out against electoral malpractices is not an incitement to violence.
We are here in solidarity with the people of our dear nation in such a historic moment as this. As a coalition of civil society organizations, we represent the overall interests of society. We therefore express constructive views and concerns of our people in line with democratic tenets, and in compliance with all applicable provisions for the expression of civil and political opinions.
As a coalition of civil society organizations, we are critical stakeholders in democracy generally, and in the conduct of elections in particular.
The most fundamental feature of democracy is free, credible, and fair elections. Any deviation or departure from this vital element renders the whole electoral process an exercise in futility.
This can give rise to a myriad of social and political consequences, some of which may be too grave to bear. So to speak out against electoral malpractices and rigging, should not be taken as public incitement to violence. Those condemning the widespread irregularities associated with this election should never be crucified. The truth remains that it is only in justice, equity, and fairness that peace can prevail in society because people are naturally bound to agitate once their rights are subverted.
It is not those speaking out against electoral malpractices that are inciting people to violence, but those who are perpetrating the malpractices.
As civil society organizations, We monitored the elections, and from what we saw it is obvious that those inciting people to violence are those who hired armed thugs to intimidate and harass citizens, thereby making it difficult, if not impossible for them to freely exercise their franchise. Those inciting people to violence are those shameless, greedy, and desperate political charlatans who want electoral victory at all costs, even at the expense of people’s blood. Those inciting people to violence are those unscrupulous officials who have agreed to exchange people’s mandates with filthy lucre. Those inciting people to violence are those compromised electoral officers who have made it difficult for people’s votes to count. These are the people inciting violence. Have they finished with them yet?
So to speak out against electoral malpractices is to save the nation from eventual collapse.
As watchdogs from the youth fronts, we want to use this medium to warn all politicians, political parties, and their stakeholders to be mindful of the way they speak as the polity is already heated up. Also, we, therefore take the statement by one MR. DELE ALAKE , SPECIAL ADVISER, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION, ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN COUNCIL, for the apprehension of the reverend clergy, Dr Paul Enenche, the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, and others as a direct affront on democracy and freedom of speech in this country.
We dismiss the statement as an unwarranted threat to his life, as well as a breach of his fundamental human right.
As a free citizen of this country, and a major stakeholder in society, Dr Paul Enenche has the freedom to express his opinions on matters of national importance. The church as a critical member of society shares heavily in the burden of bad governance and is not expected to watch the nation gravitate towards imminent disasters without speaking out.
Moreover, there is a chorus of voices, both locally and internationally decrying widespread violence, rigging, and other forms of irregularities that greeted the current elections. For example, The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) Joint Election Observation Mission (IEOM), in their joint preliminary statement issued on Monday, 27 February 2023, had expressed their concerns over INEC’s lack of transparency in the electoral process.
What about elder statesmen Like former president Olusegun Obasanjo who out of deep concerns for the country, said and I quote, “At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly, to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion…” He said again, “Let me appeal to the INEC Chairman, if his hands are clean, to save Nigeria from the looming danger and disaster which is just waiting to happen.” should he be arrested too?
What about the statement of condemnation and warning from the NLC to INEC and security personnel? What about the statement from the Labour party that, “A nation at the precipice like ours should not be stoking fires in its house filled with dry straws. INEC should not be the one that will strike the match.” Should they be arrested too?
Why is APC attacking those calling for electoral probity and sanity? Is APC coming out clear to tell Nigerians and the whole world that it is behind the electoral misfortune of Nigerians and the shameless beneficiary of it? We advise the APC to join well-meaning Nigerians and the international community in the condemnation of electoral malpractices and stop acting as a culpable party in this grand plot to subvert the will of the people.
APC, lack any locus stand to call for the arrest of anyone speaking out against electoral malpractices as they can’t be a judge in their own case.
The APC’s statement is, therefore, fundamentally flawed, technically incongruous, and morally dubious, and should be totally disregarded.
We expect the state, to treat those speaking out against irregularities as partners in progress for helping in building a sound, sane, and vibrant democratic society that is intolerant of all forms of electoral criminality.
As watchdogs in this season, I and my elder brother Dr.Salihu Dantata represents millions of the Arewa people and Sir. Chinelo Ojirika of the salute Nigeria initiative and other major youths organisations here, therefore, call on all political parties to also be careful in their choice of words in such a time as this because as patriots of this country, we believe in Nigeria. Thus we don’t have any other place to call home.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Let Love, Peace, and Unity reign.
On behalf of the coalition of Civil society organizations present here Today.
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