Since Friday the 4th of December, 2015, I have been in Bayelsa to vote and monitor the vote in what I thought was a gubernatorial election, but what I saw on Saturday the 5th of December was not an election, it was an execution! We must call a spade a spade and not a large spoon. What do you call an election in which National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members were kidnapped by men in military uniform and forced to thumbprint ballot papers a night before the elections?
This is not hearsay. I have the names and details of these patriotic youths who were serving their country only to be forced to serve anti democratic forces. Or what do we call the attack on the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa? Chief Serena Dokubo Spiff’s house was invaded by armed thugs on election day and their visit is immortalised by blood and visible trauma on the occupants of his house and on the premises itself.
Accredited election observers, including foreign diplomats witnessed as Nigeria was ridiculed by thugs almost freely engaged in killings and ballot box snatching. In some cases, these occurrences were not just brazenly but were condoned by security forces. All this only seven months after Nigeria held a most credible and transparent election that brought the incumbent president to power.
This is not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that former President Goodluck Jonathan and Professor Attahiru Jega handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari. If President Buhari really wants the world to believe that he is a reformed dictator who no longer believes that power flows through the barrel of a gun but from the freely given votes of the people, now is the time to prove it.
The president may mouth all the right words and his new INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, may re-echo what the president says, but what is in a person’s heart matters more than what is on their lips and that is something that we only truly know by what they condone. I would like to draw the president’s attention to what happens in an election where the sitting president is objective by quoting the comments of a leading member of his party.
On July 7, 2012, this is what the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomhole said about the election that held in his state the week before. Said Oshiomhole: “What the Edo election has confirmed is that when the president and Commander-in-Chief puts the country first and conducts himself as a statesman, not just as a party leader, credible elections are possible, because people were apprehensive that the Nigerian Army could be misused. But of course, I told them I didn’t think they were right, but the president’s clear directive was that the votes must count. We need to appreciate the president and encourage him to sustain this principle of truly reminding all of us, who hold political office, that we are at the mercy of the electorate, not of the presidency. I think the president has done that. The president has demonstrated statesmanship. I think there is hope for Nigeria.”
After the brigandage that occurred in Bayelsa State recently, can President Buhari honestly expect this type of testimony from any Nigerian? Is this what we are to look forward to during his leadership? Former President Jonathan and Professor Jega delivered us from “do or die” elections and I for one and the constituents of the senatorial zone I represent in Bayelsa East will not return to such an inglorious past. Some people reading this will ask me what I would have INEC do. Yet, INEC is not as powerless as she makes out to be.
The Electoral Act provides that any person, who aids and abets a political party to contravene Section 227 of the Constitution (prohibiting retention, organisation, training or equipping quasi-military organisations) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of three years or both. Acting on this provision, INEC can and should make use of evidence currently available to prosecute the individuals who were arrested by the police and by communities themselves.
Better still, INEC can offer them incentives if they will testify against the big fish politicians who sent them on their murderous errands for the sake of power. If INEC can do this, it would send a very clear and unmistakable message to all politicians who have future plans to engage in such behaviour that INEC has the guts to make them a suitable example for maximum impact.
If on the other hand INEC does not do anything and all those whose arrests we witnessed and read about are eventually let go with a slap on the wrist, they would have emboldened others to replicate what they saw happening in Bayelsa in future elections. And if INEC allows that to happen, she would lose the moral high ground she gained during the glorious era of Professor Jega.
And if that happens, I foresee Nigerians going over their head to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague especially when they have evidence that is as blatant as what we witnessed in Bayelsa recently. Some of the election observers in Bayelsa were ambassadors, some were civil rights activists and even others were journalists. On their own, they witnessed and documented the illegality and disgrace that passed itself of as an election especially in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Our own domestic activists witnessed the show of shame and likewise gathered evidence. Such evidence is within reach and the souls of those killed in the brute pursuit of power will rest better only if we can send these details to ICC. I hereby urge all youths who captured such evidence on their smart phones and other devices to make it available to me and I will pass it on.
I am on Twitter @benmurraybruce and I am on Facebook as Ben Murray-Bruce.
My name is Ben Murray Bruce and I just want to make Commonsense!
• Ben Murray Bruce is the Senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly and is also the Chairman of the Silverbird Entertainment Group
I JUST LOVE DIS MAN…PLS CONTEST FOR PRESIDENT SOON.
God bless u sir, u r my mentor 4 lyf,,, kip d good work going, I hope 2 venture in2 politics nd u will b my God father,,, I luv u sir…. Lng life
it have be many time that we Nigerian have witness countless time such event do happen during election period many have be arrested by those we called our authority but the story become the same at the end no name will be mention the case just die away showing that our politician are more stronger and are above love
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U ae d man we’ae lookn 4
We need people like you who understand that selfless service is what it takes to be an outstanding leader. I hope and pray that you become the President of this great Nation very very soon. I am so proud that you are a Nigerian.
Finalli,there Is A Joshua To Say What The #commonman Cannot Say For Fear Of The #Bigguns. #brava #CommonSenseRevolution
With this face like 😊 Barack Obama, I think we need him here in Nigeria to be our own President. Cheers 🍻 Sen. Bruse.
sir u are so full of wisdom I pray when u become the next governor of bayelsa state or even the president of Nigeria, which I believe that some day u will be and many will be glad to vote in, u will not fail us. Nigerians are looking up to u. Love u.
THANK YOU SIR FOR THE INSIGHT!!!
HELLO ALL… Lets hail the old ones and lets start work, just lets work towards the betterment of this country as the youths.. and not just throw punchlines and insults to each other on social networks…
Ask yourself… as a youth, what have you done for the nation Nigeria or are you waiting for Nigeria to do something for you? wake up Nigerians!!
M.A.D MEN MOVEMENT is a group of people dedicated to making a difference in this lovely nation! are you ready to make a difference?!
start with what YOU know YOU can DO!!!
Makes ya think
Our political immaturity is so evident. Mr Ben you happen to be the only out-spoken senator in the upper house, how I wish our senators are as refined, innovative and vocal as you. All constituencies need enlighten representative as senator, not the bunch we have there. Mr Ben we are watching you, we hear you and we will support every bill you bring to the house. God bless you, God bless the National Assembly.
Thank you Hon. Senator. Your common sense statements always inspires me and always feel proud to have someone like you to represent us. I am a medical doctor from Ogbia. I have always advocated that people like you should be given the opportunity to rule Bayelsa as the Governor. To my greatest surprise, however I have not heard your comments on how the emperor Gov of your dear state Bayelsa is starving civil servants pensioners to death on the pretext the allocation is down, despite the fact that we are the 5th largest earner from the Federal allocation. Why do you ignore the massive stealing of our emperor Gov?
A very good day to You, Sir: Senator Ben Murray Bruce
Am on a quest here to know exactly from you(sir) pertaining the fate of a certain Bill or Act: Violence Against Persons(Prohibition) Act 2015 – (Explanatory Memorandum) This Act Prohibits all forms of Violence against persons in private and public life, and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.
VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ACT. 2015 – A Bill For An Act to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders; and for related matters – the prohibition of circumcision or genital mutilation of the girl child or woman.
This V.A.P.P Bill 2015 passed through both Senate and House of Representative, National Assembly on 14th May 2015 and was signed by former President; (H.E) Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, enacted into law on 25th May 2015.
Does this Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill. 2015 remains enforced as Law to this day all across Nigeria???
And or, was the V.A.P.P Bill.2015 rejected nor abolished (at any other time) by both House(s) of the National Assembly, under the present administrative government of President; (H.E) Muhammadu Buhari ???
Senator Ben Murray Bruce; Sir, please help to give adequate clarification on/about the V.A.P.P Bill 2015!
I awaits your response/clarification sir, Senator Ben Murray Bruce.
Franklyn Narada Jacklyn