…As Falana says Buhari’s decision has ended Obasanjo regime’s ‘hypocrisy’***
The House of Representatives is currently in a rowdy session over President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to declare June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.
While some lawmakers supported it, others asked the president to rescind his decision.
Some of the lawmakers also kicked against the honour given to Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12,1993 presidential election.
Some lawmakers who also spoke on the issue said there is need to ensure the rule of law is followed regarding the matter, while others spoke in favour of the president’s decision.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday directed that effective 2019, Nigeria’s Democracy Day, marked every May 29 for the past 18 years, be shifted to June 12 to honour Mr Abiola.
Mr Abiola won the polls but he was never formally declared winner and was not sworn into office by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida.
Instead, he was imprisoned by then military dictator, Sani Abacha, while struggling to actualise his mandate. He died in prison in 1998.
Successive governments have brushed aside calls for Mr Abiola to be honoured and for the federal government to recognise June 12 as democracy day.
The Buhari government said Mr Abiola will now be conferred with nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR. The honour is exclusively conferred only on presidents and former presidents.
The government also said Mr Abiola’s running mate in that election, Babagana Kingibe, is to be conferred with the second highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Niger, GCON.
Also to receive a GCON is the late Nigeria’s foremost pro-democracy activist, Gani Fawehinmi.
Mr Buhari’s move has been commended by several state governors and activists. It has, however, been criticised by some including the opposition party, PDP. Also, PREMIUM TIMES reported how a former chief justice of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore, described the post-humous award of national honours as illegal.
In the meantime, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has commended the Nigerian government’s decision to confer a posthumous honour on M.K.O Abiola and declare June 12 as Democracy Day.
Mr Falana in a statement on Thursday urged the government to further adopt Mr Abiola’s programme of Welfare to Poverty and respect the human rights of all Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday announced the shifting of Nigeria’s Democracy Day celebration from May 29 to June 12.
The president also said a posthumous national award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) would be conferred on Mr Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election for his huge contribution to the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria.
“By declaring June 12 Democracy Day the Federal Government has officially validated the integrity of the fair and free election that was criminally annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida junta,” said Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“By recognizing June 12 as Democracy Day the Federal Government has put an end to the hypocrisy of May 29 which was proclaimed by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
“By confering the posthumous award of national award of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) on Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN the Federal Government has officially endorsed his enormous contributions to the titanic battle against military dictatorship and promotion of human rights in Nigeria.
Mr Falana called on the federal government to mark the first national democracy day on June 12, 2018, with the release of all citizens who are being detained illegally all over the country and immediate compliance with all valid and subsisting court orders.
“Furthermore, Mrs Kudirat Abiola who was brutally assassinated while defending the June 12 mandate and others who equally paid the supreme sacrifice in defence of democracy and rule of law deserve to be honoured posthumously.”