Elections may not hold in 2019- Ex-NHRC Chair, Odinkalu

Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, yesterday, expressed pessimism that elections may not hold in 2019, considering the level of preparation for the poll.

Odinkalu, who was speaking in Abuja at a town hall meeting and presentation of the findings of a post- 2015 elections research conducted by ActionAid Nigeria, said going ahead without proper preparation may result in crisis and deaths.

Although he acknowledged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recorded some gains in 2015 elections, Mr. Odinkalu said 2019 may be different. Odinkalu said: “Today, the executive has gone into lax mode; judiciary has become lawless; National Assembly is lacking in credibility; INEC is troubled; politicians have gone unruly. Government says it has no money to run the economy. Every element that made 2015 is currently missing.

“There is absolutely no reason why the executive should allow the number of vacancies we have in INEC to be. By next month, INEC will have 28 vacancies among RECs (Resident Electoral Commissioners) and seven commissioners. The Executive is carrying on as if this normal. It isn’t.

“Citizens are carrying on like: ‘We will tweet it on social media’. We should do more than that, because our country is at stake. The way we are carrying on, 2015 is history; 2019 may not happen, if we don’t reset. We‘ve got to take our country very seriously. There will be no elections in 2019.

“I’m sorry to sound alarmist. But, continuing the way we are going, we will not be able to have elections in 2019. If it happens, there would be too many broken heads and dead people.”

Lamenting the role of the judiciary, the lawyer, frowned at the corruption in the profession, particularly on recent rulings on electoral cases in the country.

His words: “The judiciary has gone rogue and destroyed everything that was supposed to guarantee fairness in the 2015 elections.

“Judges are speaking from too many sides of their mouth. There are no underlying principles. Judges come out with decisions they know are manifestly bought, and the profession is saying nothing. Citizens are behaving like it is normal for 20 judges to come out with 20 different orders on the same subject matter from different parts of the country.

“The jurisprudence on the PVC is irresponsible. When a country appropriates for a measure, and has it backed by law and voted for by the citizens, the judiciary cannot outlaw it the way the judiciary dealt with the PVC (permanent voters card). The judiciary reacted to the PVC in a way that effectively licensed electoral violence.”