Defence of Human Rights


Jun 092018



Few days ago, Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari announced that Democracy Day will henceforth be celebrated on June 12 of each year.
The President said after due consultations, the Federal Government decided that henceforth, June 12 would be celebrated as Democracy Day. In demonstration of its deep and good gestures, the government went further to award posthumously the highest honor of the land, GCFR, to late Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12th, 1993 cancelled elections.
His running mate as Vice President, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, was invested with a GCON. Furthermore, the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualization of the June 12th elections and indeed for democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, was awarded posthumously a GCON.
For 18 years, Nigerians had been celebrating May 29 as Democracy Day, by this solemn decision; the date will be changed to June 12, yearly.
June 12th, 1993 was the day when Nigerians in millions in their bid to choose a new president, expressed their democratic will in what was undisputedly the freest, fairest and most peaceful elections since our independence.
It was the first since the 1983 military coup. The result was a victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, who defeated Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention.
On the Election Day, Abiola waited patiently under the sun to vote. Unknown to him, the powerful forces within and outside the military who were not comfortable with the idea of him becoming President would annul the election. The exercise was peaceful nationwide without any hitches or disturbances. While the vote count was on, with Abiola comfortably leading, the self-styled military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, struck. He ordered the electoral body — National Electoral Commission (NEC) — to stop further announcement of the results and on June 23, 1993, he annulled the election.
This announcement was followed by spontaneous protests, mostly in the Southwest. To justify the annulment, Babangida in a nationwide broadcast claimed “there were allegations of irregularities and other acts of bad conduct leveled against the presidential candidates. But, the Prof. Humphrey Nwosu-led NEC went ahead to clear them.
However, the elections were later annulled by military ruler Ibrahim Babangida, leading to a crisis that ended with Sani Abacha leading a coup later in the year.
Many Nigerian protesters were killed, maimed or incarcerated. With the annulment, several Nigerians rose up in unison to condemn the acts and to protest against it. The protest rituals thus became annual events.
One of the prominent voice against the injustices of the June 12 is Chief Gani Fawehinmi, through the instrument of legal activism,he stood up for his conviction by tirelessly offering the public ideas to solve socio-economic and political problems, one of which was the knotty issue of June 12. He isn’t only spoke out loudly against injustice and, he also acted in the courtrooms and on the streets.
Gani Fawehinmi fought tirelessly for June 12 mandate revalidation and the restoration of MKO mandate, before he died in the course of the struggle, yet the hope and dream was forlorn, until the recent declaration by president Muahhamadu Buhari..
Fawehinmi devoted his life to the advancement of human progress; For daring to challenge the corrupt establishment he was severally arrested and detained him without trial for several months. Instead of cowing him into submission the brutal experience strengthened him as Gani resolved to wage a decisive battle against injustice in all its ramifications.
Gani’s unrelenting courage and unwavering doggedness, his sheer audacity and perseverance, his deep reverence for the rule of just law and passion for nonviolent revolution placed him in the class of heroes for humanity, of which he is.
The greatest contribution Gani made to legal development in Nigeria was the promotion of public interest litigation. Apart from representing the poor and the underprivileged, he challenged executive lawlessness and subversion of the rule of law. Gani’s contribution to the political emancipation of the masses and the entrenchment of democratic freedom in the country goes beyond the ordinary. June 12 democracy day declaration is no doubt a demonstration of uncommon courage by the Buhari's administration. By this declaration, President Muhammadu Buhari has put an end to the hypocrisy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo,Ibrahim Babangida. What a good news for democracy and a our collective sense of justice. What a big relief to the children and other family members of the late Abiola and all patriotic Nigerians. It is no doubt a clear demonstration that the sacrifice of patriotic Nigerians and the labors of our heroes past shall never be in vain again as well as a renewed hope to comrades who have been at the forefront of the June 12 struggle. A deep healing of past injustices has begun under President Muhammadu Buhari's leadership. We need further reconciliations in all cases of violations of human rights of citizens. We call on president Muhammadu Buhari in the spirit of justice and equity to citizenship disparity the country to further demonstrate his statesmanship, to compensate our democratic heroes, as many that can be identified, to Name The National Assembly Complex After Abiola, to implement some of MKO Abiola's proposed policies and to strip all manner of undeserving past national awardees dead or alive off their awards so that these new entrants can be in good company.






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