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THE NEWSPAPER COVERGE OF ELECTION PETITION TRIBUNAL IN NIGERIA A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF OBSERVER AND GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER
1.1 Background of the Study
In most parts of the world, elections are the true test of a functional democracy that is why modern societies are stratified based on their ability to convert competitive free and fair elections, Anabor (2007;p.40) elections also test the institutions that guarantee the rule of law in societies as well as the national will. Leader who emerged through the electoral system consummate with a sense empowers when leaders emerge through the democratic system, they are better disposed to use power conscientiously and transparently than those who rig their ways into power.
Since the commencement of national elections, Nigeria has been under ceaseless international securing, hunting that the world expect us to get it right as a prerequisite for regional leadership and each time, we falter in our bid to hold credible elections of all the elections ever held in Nigeria, only that of June 12, 1993 that was adjudged the freest and fairest, every other elections have be characterized by complaints and protest arising from alleged measure rigging and fraud.
Political violence poses a serious threat to the intimacy of the state and federal elections that will take places in Nigeria from April 12 to May 3, 2003. Since parties’ primary elections from local government candidate began in mid-2002, hundreds of people have been killed as a result of political violence in Nigeria, and thousands displace. Not all of the violence can be directly linked to the elections, but the heightened tension created by competition of public office has exacerbated existing conflicts and created new ones. Nigeria politicians, police and public commentators have regularly denounced political violence, respect their resolve that those responsible for crime will be brought to justice, and urged citizens not to allow themselves to be used for political thuggery politicians invariably round off these in junctions with an accusatory finger pointed at their political opponents. But little concrete action is taken against those who use violence and their action both from the official law enforcement bodies and from their own political parties.
In the last days preceding elections and during election period, the utmost vigilance by political parties, police and government will be required to ensure that political tension are kept in check. The danger of clashes will not necessarily subside once the elections are over. Therefore, the Nigeria government, electoral commission and police must take serious steps now to bolster Nigerian confidence in the electoral system and thereby prevent the post-electoral injustices.
The case studies included in this report reflect interviews with dozens of victims and witnesses of violence in the states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Kwara, Enugu and Plateau, chosen to, illustrate different patterns of political violence because political power is one of the few ways to access wealth in Nigeria, politics often becomes what is frequently referred to in Nigeria as “a do-or-die affair”. Individuals are so desperate to remain or get close to the center of power that they resort to ruthless methods that might be avoided if the economy and society offered other means of supporting themselves and their families for the same reason, the use of political thugs is a phenomenon that occurs across Nigeria.
Widespread poverty and unemployment leave young people primarily young men, susceptible to informal “employment” by politicians or their supporters as small armed forces. However, the dynamics driving political violence differ to some extent in each state covered in detail by this report. In the southern states of Bayelsa, rivers and Delta, political conflicts is often exacter bated by the desire to control the lucrative relationship between local communities and oil companies operating in the area. In Enugu, personal hostility between leading politicians has led to violence between their supporter in plateau, those who call themselves “indigenes” or natives of the state have repeatedly clashed with those they view as settler. Ethnic and religious divisions often play a part in defining the lines of conflicts and are manipulated by politicians for their own ends. Nonetheless the many causes of political violence over lap across states and defy easy classification. The cases illustrate different fundamental dynamics in each state, but also contain common themes across the country.
The independent national electoral commissions (INEC) perceived willingness and ability to manage elect ion impartially can affect the level of political violence. If elections are fairs and transparent, it is more difficult for any group credibly to claim grievance that could lead to violence in the post-election period. The number of clashes provoked by party primary which quite often did not follow clear procedures articulated in advance, illustrates the importance of transparency at the even higher. Unfortunately, at many stages of preparing for elections, including registration of political parties, accreditation election observes, and setting the election schedules, INEC did not initially clarify the bases for making decision, leaving it fairly open to criticism that it was favouring the ruling party, separate state. level commissions responsible for managing local government elections, which were originally scheduled local government elections, which were originally scheduled for April 2002, have still not announced a concrete plan for when and how they will take place.
The political parties themselves have failed to impose discipline on their own members while government officials and leaders of several parties have made public statements condemning political violence, public reprimands actions within the parties, have been rare in addition, parties and candidate have sometimes accused their opponents of participations in political violence with little apparent basis, which exacerbates tension that could lead to violence between their supporters. As part of the process of growing from loose association based on fleeting political interest to parties with true criminal activities and human rights violations committed by their members more seriously the criminals status in government or within the party.
A briefly paper issued by human right watch in January 2003 describe our general causes for concern in the pre-election period. The current report follows up with more detailed information in incidents of political violence. It first presents case studies of political violence in four states: Bayelsa, Rivers, Kwara and Enugu. It then describes two crisis where political conflict has occurred along religious or ethnic lines: the first in Jos, the capital of Plateau state; and the second in the southern oil city of Warri, in Delta State cases, of high profile assassination are next reviewed, followed by a section highlighting the role of political parties and of the international community in supporting, peaceful elections. A full set of recommendation appears at the end of the report elections for the national assembly are schedules for April 12, 2003; the guber national and presidential contests for runoff polls; and elections to the state house of assembly for May 3. Elections for local governments have not yet been scheduled.
INEC is a constitutionally created body charged with managing presidential, national and the state level elections, including among other things registration of voters, certification of political parties and monitoring certain aspect of party operations. The three year tenure of local government officials expect on May 29, 2002. The ruling people’s democratic party (PDP) held local party primaries over the council elections, and became the setting for numerous incidents of political violence the local council primaries had originally been scheduled for April 2002, they were postponed to August 2002, and finally postponed indefinitely, the state electoral commissions responsible for local election commissions responsible for local election have get to announce a final schedule. In the meantime, the state governors appointed local “caretaker committees” to administer local government affairs when local council tenures expired.
General Mohammed Buhari, is the presidential candidate of all Nigeria people’s party (ANPP) for 2007, he was also presidential candidate in 2003. “This site has been set up as a resource for the general public on the candidates, his vision and his mission during campaign platform. Their briefing includes on why are Nigeria as 2003 elections so important? The history of democratic elections in Nigeria, politics, wealth and power, political parties in Nigeria, local rivalries and political violence, etc. the centre is a London-based go promoting democracy, peace and human rights in African ad especially in the West Africa sub-region.
An independent mass working people’s political party with a socialist programme to provide an alternative to the existing capitalist conscience party (NCP) led by lawyer and fighter for human rights, chief Gani Fewehinmi, who is also the party presidential candidate. Support workers, right. Based in Lagos Nigeria. At 2003 presidential candidate is Chief Gani Fewehinmi and vice presidential candidate Mr. Jerry Gopye. Party platform, party constitution, party gubernatorial candidates, the national conscience party was formed (by Gani Fawehimmi) and publicity launched as a political party on the 1st of October 1994. It was formed as an act of defiance against the military junta of General Sani Abacha.
According to Kuting “Election tribunals are courts with special authority to deal with cases relating to elections malpractices and fraud in section of electoral Act 2002”. The authority of any tribunal to hear and determine election petitions or matters pertaining to election petitions is statutory constitution of Nigeria. The relevant of election law. Most of the electoral laws have always made provision for the establishment of election tribunal with power to determine the validity or otherwise of the election of any candidate. It is pertinent to point out the injuncture that the establishment of special election tribunal is a recent development in the electoral history of Nigeria up till 1954, the court were vested with the powers to hear and determine questions bothering on the validity of the election of any candidate. However, the Nigeria constitution order in council 1954, election (House of representatives) regulations, 1954 provide that: no election held under party ix and no return of a member to the house of representative may be questioned except by petition complaining of undue election or return of a member of the House of representative where is after called “an election petition”) and presented to the court in accordance with the provision of this part and the general regulation.
As at 1954, the Supreme Court was vested with original jurisdiction under the relevant electoral law to hear and determine questions bothering in the election and return of a member to the House of Representatives. On this premise any election petition made to any other court with a view to questioning the validity of the election of any candidate to the House of Representatives would be incompetent as no other court had jurisdiction to determine the matter.
Subsequent electoral laws made from 1977 contain provisions for the establishment election tribunals which are clothed with powers to determine question arising from the conduct of election for instance, the state government (basic constitutional and transitional provisions) Decree, 1999 provides that: there shall be established in each state of the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as governorship and legislative house election tribunal (in this decree referred to individual as a “electoral tribunal” which shall be the exclusion of any other court or tribunal, have original judrisdiction to hear and determine any question.
Nigeria democracy is characterized with violence and constitutional crises which predate independence, such political, unrest even excombinated to military incursion politics in Nigeria which is now largely based gradually becoming a part of our national psycho-politics in Nigeria is largely based on parochial reason ranging from ethical, religious and monetary. These elements can at best be described as the most unlikely bed fellows robust democracy. This project work will look at the level of coverage of the election tribunals, the attention the press has given to the tribunals. The study will examine if the press has been playing their roles.
The press has the duty to inform the public the verdicts of various elections tribunals across the country. The press should keep the people informed about the activities of the tribunals. Traditionally, the press is a productive device for informing the people about events around them journalism present a continuous never-ending, moving picture of the world and its conducts. The press, which is seen as a catalyst for changing should be able to inform the citizens about election petition tribunals. The need for election tribunals, its verdicts whether positive or negative. How it helps to nurture and sustain our nascent democracy. The press has a role to play by informing the public on the consequence of election fraud and how it shows down the profess of the nation. The newspapers are very powerful to this effect.
The observer newspaper which is one of the newspapers to be used for this study was established by decree two of 1967 by the military governor of the defunct mild west state, lieutenant colonel Samuel Ogbemudia Osaigbovo. The philosophy was primarily to print and publish a daily newspaper, which would provide a means of informing the public of the intentional programmes and the policies of government. It was also to serve as a medium of education, information and enlightenment to the people. The observer however, whet into commercial printing in 1969, the commercial printing started on a small scale in 1968 and gained autonomy in 1970, being born a year after the Nigeria civil war started, the Nigeria observer was born into crisis.
The Guardian is a privately owned newspaper, which came into existence in 1983. Its duty is to publish both local and national issues. It is a daily newspaper.
According to human rights watch, (1997:p.1) Decree No:7 of 1997 provides for the establishment of local government election tribunal and election appeal tribunals to resolve disputes arising out of elections 75 each tribunals is to be comprised of a chairman and two other members election tribunal members are to be appointed by the chief judge of the state of the Federal capital territory while election appeal tribunals members are to be appointed by the chief justice of the federation.
The chairman of election tribunals must have held or be qualified to hold office of a high court judge. One of the members of the tribunal must be qualified to practices the law for a minimum of twelve years and the other must be non-member of the legal profession. All election appeal tribunal members must be retired justice of the court of appeal or constitutional court, retired judges of the federal high court or the higher court of a state or the federal capital territory or legal practitioners who have been qualified to practice for a minimum of twelve years. Not with standing their credentials there have been many credible reports that members of election tribunals have emerged in that Alhaji Hassan Yusuf a member of the transition implementation committee announced in late August 1997 that the tie was documenting all aged in proprieties by the tribunals for transmission to General Sani Abacha. The following council of state meeting on August 22, 1997 when Ibrahim announced that the Federal government had decided to review decisions of local government election appeal tribunal throughout the country, the explained that certain members of the tribunals, including the chairman and politicians, have participate in corrupt practices in order to make sure that certain people are not pronounced as winners and therefore, government have decided review the situation and critically take certain actions that will restore credibility and credence to the transition programme.
According to Kutigi (2003,p2) State “Election tribunals are courts with special authority to deal with cases relations to election malpractices and fraud section 134 of election ACT 2002”.
According to Maurice Iwu: (2003:p.4) “The law setting up election petition tribunals in the 1999 constitution of Federal republic of Nigerians all election petition except the ones relating to presidential elections must be contend at the election tribunal and determine at the court of appeal”.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The principle responsibility of journalist in any event is to report the events provide historical background, determine which election petition tribunal are doing their work within the frame work of law and which is news worthy despite this while gesture, the mass media in Nigeria has been strongly critized over the performance one election tribunals coverage by the masses.
Hence, this work sets out to examine whether or not the Guardian and Observer newspaper are fulfilling the functions of the press to the society in the coverage of election tribunal.
The study equally examine the level of reportage of the tribunal stories by the Guardian and the Observer newspaper concerning the 2003 election petition tribunals.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The objective of the study are as follows:
iii. This study will also examines the level of objectivity in reporting the 2003 election tribunal.
1.4 Research Questions
In view of the study, the following research question have been put from ward.
iii. How often did the observer and the guardian write an editorial on the 2003 election petition tribunals in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is known fact that the press in any country act as a disseminator of information to the general public and as a catalyst of change. They also serve as a link between the government and the public in tight of the above, the study will show the extent to which these functions were performed by the selected newspaper.
Secondly, the study will provide information about the nature of coverage of the 2003 election petition tribunals in Nigeria by the two selected newspaper.
Thirdly the study will provide additional knowledge in the field of mass communication.
It will also serves as a reference material for further research or election petition tribunal coverage by the Nigeria press.
1.6 Scope of the Study
Basically, the research work is a critical analysis of how the press covered the election petition tribunals of 2003 from March 2003-May 2004 the Guardian and Observer newspaper are used to comparative analysis of the coverage. Every Monday and Friday edition will be selected. This two paper will for the population in the process, the direction of the news stories features, additional will be evaluated.
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