From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has expressed displeasure over the ruling of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Enugu State, that upheld the victory of Governor Peter Mbah.
A 3-man tribunal, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Akano, dismissed the petitions of the Labour Party and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, on the basis that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate is not a qualification to contest a governorship election.
While weighing on matter, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, argued if the NYSC was not a prerequisite for contesting an election then the scheme should be abolished, because, according to him, it was a waste of resources.
“The decision of the Tribunal has ominous implications for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) itself. If this judgment is upheld by the Appeal Court or Supreme Court, it effectively undermines the significance of the NYSC certificate, suggesting that anyone can simply present any certificate without consequences since in the first place, it bears no qualifying relevance as interpreted or argued by this panel of judges in the Enugu gubernatorial election petition tribunal. It puts into question the very relevance of the NYSC institution in Nigeria”.
Onwubiko added that judgement was a gross miscarriage of justice that undermined the principles of fairness and sent a what he called “a distressing message that political aspirants can manipulate their qualifications with impunity precisely because the Tribunal deliberately failed to address that aspect of the petition but rather played around flowery language to deodorise the panel’s decision to unleash injustice.”
He therefore endorsed the decision of the Labour Party to appeal the case and called on the appellate courts to correct “this grave injustice and uphold the principles of fairness, transparency, and integrity in Nigeria’s elections, with the belief that the citizens of Enugu State and Nigeria as a whole deserve nothing less than a fair, just, and credible electoral process that reflects the true will of the people.”
Meanwhile, he called the attention to a previous issue it had raised concerning the Minister of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, who concurrently serves as a Corps member and holds a federal ministerial position.
“This case remains unaddressed, and the minister continues to hold office. This raises the concern of whether there is an underlying agenda within the government to erode the credibility and importance of the NYSC as an institution,” he said.
Onwubiko suggested an urgent reforms in the country’s electoral and judicial systems, insisting that accountability and the rule of law should prevail over political expediency and that the tribunal’s verdict should serve as a rallying cry for a better, fairer, and more just Nigeria.