Use of Security Agencies to Rig Elections, Worst Crime, Says Azinge

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Epiphany Azinge

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Former Director General of Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, has declared that the use of forces of coercion to undermine the democratic preference of voters is the worst crime against the rule of law.

Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday during a public lecture in honour of the late Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of the State, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), Azinge decried the illegal use of security agencies to undermine the constitutional governance.

The Public Lecture titled: “The Rule of Law and Leadership in Nigeria’s Democracy: The Role of the Attorney General” had in attendance Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike; former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Austin Opara; Senior Advocates of Nigeria; traditional rulers and leaders of the state.

Azinge said, “Another brazen affront to the concept of the rule of law is the ignoble role of law enforcement agencies to wit, Police, state security services, the armed forces in the affairs of bastardisation of democratic norms and principles.

“Law enforcement agencies continue to be used as veritable tools for perpetration of election rigging in our polity. It is a notorious fact that has been on since independence. However, since 1999, it has now assumed a disturbing dimension. To use forces of coercion to undermine the wishes of the electorate in an election is simply the highest form of debasement of the concept of Rule of Law”.

He said good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially to protect the rights of all group of persons.

“The burden of good governance tied to Rule of Law is to a large extent on the office of the attorneys general of both the Federation and the states.”

The Legal Luminary said the attorney general has the responsibility of advising the government to ensure that the Rule of Law is maintained and government actions are constitutional and valid in law.