Ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly elections, Legal practitioners known as Lawyers for Peter Obi have called on the Lagos State government led by the All Progressives Congress, to ensure that its “supporters, thugs, and candidates conduct themselves in a civil manner.”
The group also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigerian security agencies to immediately stop continued attacks and intimidation against supporters of the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos State.
The Lagos State Coordinator of the group, Precious Ukusanjuya, and the Director, Contact and Mobilisation, Oludare Amusan, in a statement, said that over the past few weeks, the group had observed threats and attacks on Lagosians and supporters of the Labour Party allegedly sponsored by APC, Lagos State chapter.
“We have observed the type of hateful and inciteful campaigns, threats and attacks being sponsored by the supporters of the ruling Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressive Congress against Lagosians and supporters of the Labour Party and a particular ethnic group who live and conduct their business in Lagos State,” they said.
The group pointed out that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provided for the fundamental and inalienable rights of the citizens of Nigeria. It, however, lamented that the right is not being respected by the supporters of the APC Lagos State Chapter.
“But we have seen these rights being trampled upon and breached by supporters of the ruling party in the state. Suffice it to say that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies have been quiet on these issues,” they added.
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They further observed that Sections 92, 93, and 97 of the Electoral Act, 2022 made it an offence for a person, candidate, or political party to campaign with abusive language, promote or instigate an attack on a political party or their candidate, or the use of force to compel or stop a person from supporting a candidate or campaigning based on tribe or sectional reason.
“Before our very eyes, we have witnessed the supporters and even candidates of the Lagos APC flout these provisions of the law without any action by the commission or the security agencies. The most recent of these series of offences was the attack on Lagos State Labour Party gubernatorial candidate, Arc. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and his campaign team in Epe on Saturday, March 11, 2023, where they went for a rally.
“We believe that every citizen has the right to vote for the candidate of their choice and participate in the electoral process. This is a fundamental right in a democracy. It is the duty of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, other security agencies within the state, and INEC to ensure that Lagosians are protected from these anti-democratic elements in society and to enable well-meaning citizens to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.
“We also call on all political parties, particularly the Lagos State Chapter of the All Progressive Congress, to ensure that its supporters, thugs, and candidates conduct themselves in a civil manner during the remaining days of these campaigns and at the polls.”
The group encouraged all residents of the state to come out en mass to cast their votes on Saturday, 18th March 2023, while urging them to be peaceful in the process.