Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Afe Babalola

Senior advocate and founder of Afe Babalola University, Aare Afe Babalola, said on Friday that true democracy was still elusive in Nigeria 28 years after the June 12, 1993, election, believed to have been won by Chief Moshood Abiola, was annulled by the military.

Babalola who recalled the day the issue of June 12 was finally put to rest in the court, in view of a one-sheet gazette presented by the government’s lawyer, described it as “the saddest day for the Judiciary in our country” and “the beginning of a journey the end of which nobody knows.”

The elder statesman, who was Abiola’s lawyer in the case, said in a statement titled, ‘June 12, whether Abiola died in vain or not: Time will tell,’ that the ghost of the annulment of the election had continued to haunt Nigeria as he questioned whether the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by the President, Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had achieved any result or not.

He said, “The man (Abiola) went through an election and to get a judgment, he was sent out of the court with a gazette that the election has been annulled. But I added a prophetic statement then that “this is the beginning of a journey the end of which nobody knows”.

“Today, many years after that prophetic statement, Nigeria is still on the search for true democracy which began on June 12, 1993. Nigeria had been denied true democracy and until we have democracy properly, the journey which began with the annulment of late Abiola’s election of June 12, 1993, will remain uncompleted”.

Babalola, who said that democracy thrived on three pillars – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, regretted that it had not been well with none of the three arms, hence the need “to take steps to prevent the country from total collapse by immediately addressing the critically important issue of National Conference to draft a peoples’ Federal Constitution similar to 1963 Constitution based on Parliamentary System of Government.”

He said, “For many months, Nigeria’s Judiciary existed only in name. The courts were paralysed by a nationwide strike by JUSUN. For the first time, all the courts in the country were shut down.

“The compliance of the workers was that Judiciary lacks autonomy. This fundamental issue remains unaddressed even with the calling off of the industrial action by JUSUN. Up till now, the Legislative and the Executive Arms have not addressed the issue satisfactorily.

“The Legislature, which is the second arm of government in democracy, has failed to enact a law to constitute a National Conference to fashion out a true Federal Constitution to replace the 1999 Military/Unitary Constitution foisted on Nigerians when the Military was vacating the reign of governance in 1999. Recently, it has spent billions of Naira merely to invite Nigerians to discuss a mere amendment to the 1999 Constitution which is the root cause of Nigeria’s problems today.

“The Presidency is engulfed in a serious battle with insecurity by way of Boko Haram, bandits, kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, armed herdsmen who roam about the farmlands – killing and destroying farm products.

“The Naira has depreciated to an all-time low while many farmers have abandoned their farms due to rampaging cattle rearers and kidnappers. Many schools have had to close down due to the ogre of kidnapping.

“Finally, one may ask whether the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day by the Federal Government has so far yielded any result and whether Abiola died in vain or not? Time will tell,” Babalola said.

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