Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission from engaging the services of the chairman of the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, to distribute election materials in the state pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by the Labour Party and five others.
The court granted “an order of interlocutory injunction filed by the Labour Party and five others restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (defendant/respondent), whether by itself or by its officers, affiliates, servants, privies or agents or any person acting or purporting to act for and on behalf howsoever from taking any steps or further steps whatsoever in furtherance of the engagement or appointment or consummating the appointment of Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo-led Lagos State Parks Management Committee or any of its commercial bus drivers to distribute 2023 election materials and personnel in Lagos State pending the hearing and determination the substantive suit.”
INEC in Lagos State had reacted to a backlash following a letter written by MC Oluomo asking the electoral umpire to contract the distribution of materials to him, saying it (INEC) was engaging parks managers in the state and not MC Oluomo. The Residential Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, had said. On the issue of MC Oluomo, the commission is not concerned with Oluomo. We are concerned with the issue of motor park administration in Lagos.
For the past two years, the Lagos State government has banned the operations of the NURTW and RTEAN in the state. They had problems and the state government banned them. So we are left with Lagos State Park and Garages and the National Association of Road Transport Owners, adding that NARTO, which, according to him, the commission was already working with, is not able to meet up with the 40 percent needs of the commission for this election, hence the commission’s consideration of engaging the MC Oluomo-led Lagos State Parks and Garages.
We are not dealing with MC Oluomo, Agbaje had said, adding that we are dealing with park managers. They are individual persons that have vehicles that we are going to use for the elections. The law has already banned the NURTW from operating in the state so we cannot violate the law by patronizing them. It will be working against the law if we have to be working with the banned associations. So it cannot work.”
Reactions immediately trailed the disclosure by the Lagos State REC. Human Rights Writers’ Association had rejected the plan by INEC to engage MC Oluomo-led parks management for election logistics, stressing that MC Oluomo was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress saying that allowing MC Oluomo group to transport election materials amounts to kissing a free and fair election in Lagos goodbye. The fact that INEC Nigeria even thought of this preposterous idea speaks volumes as to how unreliable and biased that body is.
The plan of INEC to use the organization led by a known APC member who has been seen in many rallies of Bola Tinubu in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Osun, Ekiti, and other places is condemnable and anti-democratic. HURIWA rejects this in its entirety. Apparently, the Lagos Resident Electoral commissioner is working for Tinubu and APC. INEC needs to immediately redeploy him for electoral integrity if any at all will be achieved in the next election.
Also, HURIWA demands that INEC finds an alternative to the Central Bank of Nigeria and not keep sensitive and non-sensitive materials in the custody of the apex bank headed by a known APC member and in fact a former presidential aspirant of the ruling party. This is totally wrong,” said a statement signed by the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko.
The Labour Party rejected INEC’s contract with the MC Oluomo -led parks management and called for the removal of the Lagos REC, Agbaje. The Labour Party, through the spokesperson for its presidential campaign council, Akin Osuntokun, said: we initially took the allegation with a pinch of salt, believing that INEC was conscious of red lines in these elections and that common sense and logic would not permit such arbitrariness. However, as days passed by, it became clear to us that the news report was correct, especially as the explanation given by INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, does not go far enough in refuting this association.
Osuntokun had added that the recent public statements by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, bordering on sectional bias and resentment, have shown overwhelming partisanship on his side, and therefore, he cannot be trusted with the onerous task of conducting an unbiased election in a volatile state like Lagos.
We recall further, with apprehension, that the heavily criticised 2018 Osun State governorship rerun election, wherein Mr Gboyega Oyetola was controversially declared the winner to the dismay of the populace, including international observers, was also conducted by this same Olusegun Agbaje. It is, therefore, against the above backdrop, that we demand the immediate cancellation of the logistics contract between INEC and MC Oluomo.
Stressing that INEC could use other hands as REC, Osuntokun added, “We also want an immediate redeployment and blacklisting from any election duty, anywhere, of the Lagos REC, Olusegun Agbaje, whose recent actions have raised doubts about his suitability as an election supervisor. There are far too many capable Nigerians of good professional and ethical standards available within INEC, to conduct an acceptable election, than to run the risk of any unpopular pre-determined outcome, which his conduct, strongly suggests.
The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are gotten from the public domain.