Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has charged security operatives in Nigeria not to allow miscreants to use violence to disrupt the governorship and state assembly elections and undermine Nigeria’s democratic process. He also urged them to be professional in their responsibilities by maintaining law and order and ensuring that perpetrators of violence are brought to book. Jonathan spoke after casting his ballot at his Otuoke polling unit in Bayelsa State, where only the House of Assembly election took place.
According to a statement yesterday by his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, the former President also condemned the incidences of violence and voter suppression recorded in some parts of the state and other parts of the country. He said that Nigeria has been recording some progress in the nation’s democratic journey, adding that miscreants should not be allowed to undermine the gains. He said: “Nobody should be allowed to mess up our electoral system. In the past, those kinds of criminal acts took place but the country is moving forward and some criminals cannot push us backwards.
The world is watching Nigeria and we cannot allow criminal elements to push us backwards.” In terms of general security, the former President stated that the atmosphere in Bayelsa was peaceful although he expressed concern over the reported crisis in the State Constituency Two in Anyama part of Ogbia in Ogbia Local Government Area where election materials were alleged to have been burnt by miscreants. He also called for the arrest and prosecution of the troublemakers. Jonathan said: “The police must arrest all those involved and prosecute them. They must be stopped and the security authorities; the police, army and operatives of the Department of State Security in Bayelsa State must make sure that all those involved in that criminal activities are prosecuted.” Speaking on the voting process and his experience with the voting exercise, Jonathan said: “Judging from my voting unit, election materials arrived earlier today than three weeks ago and if that reflects in 70 – 80 per cent of the country, then we will be very happy that INEC is improving in terms of the early arrival of voting materials.”
He also commended all Nigerians for the commitment and the resilience they have shown in the 2023 elections cycle, beginning from their interest during the voter registration which was sustained up to the primaries and days of voting. He said: “I believe that Nigerians have decided that we must all participate in selecting our leaders. Any country where the ballot paper cannot help in the leadership selection process is doomed. We must run a system where the ballot, and not the courts, will decide who leads us, either at the levels of the president, the Governor, council leaders or parliamentarians.” Jonathan also debunked a recent online report which alleged that he asked those not satisfied with the outcome of elections, such as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, as well as other aggrieved contestants, not to seek redress in courts, stressing that the legal system is part of Nigeria’s democratic process, which helps to check the excesses of politicians and the perceived errors and misconduct of the electoral umpire. He said: “The Nigeria electoral process involves voting in the field and also a legal process, when necessary. I did not say people who feel aggrieved should not go to court. I am a key member of the West Africa Elders Forum and during the elections, we met with the major presidential candidates. We encouraged them to go to court if they feel aggrieved but not to take laws into their hands. “The legal system is part and parcel of our democratic process. What I am saying is that if you go through the electoral process and also go through the legal system and you don’t succeed, do not embark on actions that could cause problems in the polity.