By Oladipupo Awojobi
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has called for free, fair and credible elections as Nigeria goes to polls this Saturday and on March 9.
The constitutional lawyer added that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had an onerous duty to conduct credible polls to avoid a crisis that nobody could predict.
Ozekhome spoke recently at an annual lecture organised in remembrance of the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti by the Lagos State branch of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rightd (CDHR) with the theme: “An Unbiased Umpire, The Antidote to Curb Security Challenges Ahead.”
The lawyer advised that INEC should not side any group or any political party, adding that they should do the right thing rather than causing crisis.
“I told the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, when I met him to allow history to judge him and to protect his integrity.
“Professor Claude Ake said that the Nigerian election process is an all consuming process in which the end justifies the means.
“We have had several electoral violence in Nigeria, so we should avoid a repeat,” he said.
Ozekhome stated that Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti was born on 22nd August, 1949 and died on 10th February, 2006 at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) at the age of 65.
“He was the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Vice Chairman of NMA, National and fought many battles through strikes.
“He is being celebrated 13 years after his transition. We cannot forget him, he fought the military and he was put in the prison by the military before Gen. Ibrahim Babangida released him, when he took over power,” he said.
Chairman of Lagos State Branch of CDHR, Comrade Alex Omotehinse, recalled in his welcome address that the late activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, formed the National Conscience Party (NCP) at a time the military government disallowed formation of political parties.
“The man Beko Ransome-Kuti that we are celebrating today is an hero and he was the founder of CDHR.
“Though he was a medical doctor, he devoted his life to the freedom of the masses. He died in 2006, but heroes don’t die, Beko is still being celebrated till today. Many presidents have died and nobody celebrates them,” he said.