A team of election monitors from the European Union yesterday urged just re-elected Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State to file a lawsuit over alleged abuses committed by security agents deployed to Osun State during last Saturday’s governorship election.
In a meeting with Mr. Aregbesola in Oshogbo, the coordinator of the EU’s election monitoring group, Paul Edwards, suggested that the governor use the courts to seek redress.
The EU’s parley with the re-elected governor took place at Government House, Oshogbo, the capital of Osun State.
Mr. Edwards congratulated the governor on his victory and stated that strict adherence to the rule of law was the surest way to deepen Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr. Aregbesola had accused the security agents, who were deployed by the Federal Government, of reckless acts and the unwarranted use of force. The governor told the EU delegates that security agents had arbitrarily and unjustifiably arrested top officials of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the last few days preceding the election.
In response to the complaints, the EU delegation stated that the best antidote to check abuse of power was to use the courts.
“We are here to congratulate Your Excellency on your victory in the Saturday governorship election. Besides, our mission here is to also find out from you about the conduct of the election,” said Mr. Edwards. He added:
“We have observed the election all over the state and have our reports. In any election like this, there are bound to be issues. But it is our opinion that whatever the complaint you have, you should choose the legal option to seek remedy.”
Mr. Edwards implored Mr. Aregbesola to “rely on the instrumentality of the law” to pursue remedies for the violation of rights suffered by APC members. “Let us always use the legal method to stop the impunity used by one unit of government against the other,” said Mr. Edwards, adding that it was “through this option that we can deepen democratic institutions.”
Mr. Edwards assured the governor that, if he sent his complaints formally, the EU would “take note of it and act accordingly within the framework of law.”
Mr. Aregbesola praised the EU monitors for their steadfast commitment to the development of Nigeria’s democracy.
He stated that the unlawful use of brute force by security agents sent to the state was unfortunate. According to Mr. Aregbesola, even though voting is a small aspect of a democracy, it is sacred and must not be attended by the inordinate use of force. He added that the electorate must have the freedom to exercise their votes without molestation or intimidation.
Mr. Aregbesola deplored how hooded security agents acted with impunity on the streets of Osun State, adding that the agents acted like commandos. He also accused the agents of engaging in widespread arrests and detentions of APC leaders and members.
“Our victory did not come because the Federal authority designed it so but because we were favored by the people as the best party that can serve them better,” said the governor. He added that the deployment of security agents “who took over the administration of security of my state with impunity” had created an adverse situation in the state during last week’s election.
According to the governor, “There was a deliberate attempt at muzzling the people voice through votes.”
Speaking further, the re-elected governor said, “We must prevent the Federal Government from the recurring culture of arbitrarily invading the territory of a unit within the federal structure. This is an abuse of power.”