Fashola Urges NASS To Grant Enough Time To Seek Redress On Complaints About Electoral Malpractices
• As Governor names Gbagada Housing Estate after late foremost Human Rights activist, Baba Omojola
Jun 12, 2014 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday called on the National Assembly to review the electoral law limiting to 180 days the time for seeking redress over electoral complaints saying it would tantamount to an injustice to the complainant if the avenue to seek justice was constricted by time.
Fashola, who spoke at the handing over of Gbagada Housing Estate which he renamed Ajibola Adewale Omojola Housing Estate in Honour of the late foremost Human Rights Activist and former Chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), said those who suffered any electoral fraud should be given enough time to seek redress adding that doing otherwise would deny such people justice.
He noted that access to complaints about electoral malpractices was as important as respect for the rights to cast a vote adding that part of the process of securing and protecting the votes was where the vote was interfered with the right of the complainant to seek redress "must not be limited to 180 days".
"By doing so, we seem to encourage those who are intent on subverting the process to say 'I will subvert the process and I will frustrate you in court'", the Governor said adding that the National Assembly must act fast to make the amendment in order to protect the nation's democracy".
Acknowledging that the reason for the 180 days time limit could be in order to ensure that the cases are concluded on time, Fashola argued that where there are clear dangers of sacrificing substance for time and therefore occasioning injustice, the law should err on the side of Justice.
The Governor paid glowing tribute to Pa Omojola whom he said was among the men and women of honour who stood up to defend and uphold the spirit of Democracy as depicted by the election of June 12 1993 adding that one of the reasons for dedicating the Housing Estate in his honour was to leave a legacy to remind coming generations of Lagosians about the sacrifice he made to sustain democracy.
He recalled Baba Omojola's last outing during last year's June 12 anniversary saying the late NADECO Chieftain, who was the Chairman of the anniversary's committee, made a very inspiring speech in which he urged Nigerians to be very vigilant as "the enemies of our democracy are gathering but they are not as many as we are".
"Perhaps his words have come true. The enemies of our freedom are indeed gathering. But we are more in number than them and if we resolve to confront them, clearly, our strength and the nobility of our course will deliver triumph", the Governor said.
According to him, "They are threatening our democracy as elections approach in Ekiti and Osun States and all of us must rise once again to say never again we will have anything less than purest form of democracy".
Disclosing that the decision to name the Estate after him was made last year at the 20th anniversary of June 12, Fashola regretted that Baba Omojola passed on last year when many were expecting him to be present at this year's June 12 event to receive the honour.
The Governor recalled, "After I listened to him last year, I whispered to the Honourable Commissioner for Housing that as soon as we complete the Gbagada Housing Estate, we would schedule it for June 12, 2014 and dedicate it in honour of this man who had stood so steadfastly in support of democracy".
"Because they fought, we can hold office today. But alas we were proposing but God had His own plans for Baba Omojola, a more permanent plan, a more enduring plan, a plan that makes him now look over us and say, 'well you are still caught in the struggle, I have come to my final resting place' because sadly he is no longer with us", the Governor said.
He, however, thanked God that the Commissioner for Housing, the widow and the children of the deceased were at the ceremony to join with the Government "as we salute service, as we salute sacrifice, as we celebrate selflessness, as we honour those who stand up to be counted for good causes".
"It is a token gesture from us but I hope that it will inspire others to seek to serve, to seek to be consistent, to seek to stick to an idea. Long after it has lost front page presence, many of those who started this cause are running with it but some few who, probably, joined it because it was popular have moved on", he said.
The Governor, who noted that those dedicated ones among them paid the price both sides to show that actions have consequences, declared, "For all those who will live here many years after we have all gone, I hope that if they then ask 'who is Baba Omojola?', the story of the sacrifice he made would continue to be told. That is what we seek to achieve".
Thanking the Omojola Family for accepting the token gesture of his administration's acknowledgement of the service rendered by their Patriarch, Fashola noted that June 12 has become a very important day in the developmental history of the State in particular and the country in general adding, "It is a day that many people hold on to as expressive of the promise that free and fair elections can hold in Nigeria".
"It is a promise that I believe would be realized; but it is a promise that we all must work very hard for", he said adding, "For us in Lagos, in my Party and in my Government, this day will continue to be spoken about even after we have achieved free and fair elections across the length and breadth of Nigeria".
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje, explained that the Gbagada Housing Estate was started during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu adding that the fact that the present administration dedicated itself to the completion of the project was a clear demonstration of continuity of governance.
Appealing to the occupants to take ownership of the Estate and ensure its maintenance, the commissioner enjoined private developers to come and participate with the State Government to bridge the gap of housing deficit in the State.
Among those present at the commissioning of the Estate were widow of late foremost Human Rights Activist and former Chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Dr (Mrs) Yewande Omojola, her children, Miss Titilope Omojola and Mr. Akinola Omojola, widow of late Chief Alao Aka-Bashorun, Mrs. Kudirat Aka-Bashorun, Commissioner for Housing, Hon. Bosun Jeje, his Finance, Commerce & Industry and Information and Strategy counterparts, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi, Mrs. Olusola Oworu, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, Special Adviser, Housing, Mr. Jimoh Ajao (left), Chairman, House Committee on Lands and Housing, Hon. Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo and other dignitaries.