Femi Falana, SAN, the human rights lawyer, has written to the Nigeria Police Force and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He wrote to them to probe a video showing the Kogi Local Government Chairman, Joseph Omuya Salami destroying electoral materials and intimidating INEC officer during the February 25, 2023 election.
Recall that SaharaReporters published the video where Joseph was filmed while he was destroying votes belonging to the PDP senatorial candidate for Kogi Central, Natasha Akpoti Uduaghan barely two weeks ago.
In copies of letters of request sent to INEC Chairman and the Nigerian Inspector-General of Police, Falana described the conduct of Joseph Omuya during the poll as criminal and in contravention to sections 115(1) (f) & (j), 125 and 126(1) (j) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which are punishable under section 125, 126(3) (4) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The statement reads: “We are Solicitors to Mrs. Natasha Hadiza Akpoti-Uduaghan (hereinafter referred to as “our client”). Our client was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vying for the position of Senate to represent Kogi Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly general election of 25th February’s 2023.
“Between 12 noon and 2pm while voting and collation of results was ongoing on the 25th February, 2023, several of our client’s polling agents in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State reported to our client that the Chairman of Adavi Local Government Area, Kogi State, Hon. Joseph Omuya Salami in the company of his police escorts were going around destroying ballot boxes that were already thumb printed by voters in favour of our client at the various polling units. Our client’s agents were able to capture on camera the criminal activities perpetrated by Hon. Salami at polling unit with Code 034, along Eid Prayer Ground, Nagazi/Farm Centre Ward and Polling Unit 033 Mikab Model School, Nagazi/Farm center ward, Adavi Local Government Area, Kogi State where he was destroying polling materials, ballot papers, intimidating voters and harassing electoral officials with the aid of police officers and thugs. He went to other polling units where he tore ballot papers already thumb-printed in favor of our client to reduce her wild margin against the candidate of the APC.
“There is no doubt that the unwholesome activities of Hon. Joseph Omuya Salami, the Chairman of Adavi L.G.A. constitute very grave offences under the Electoral Act, 2022. Hence, it is our client’s instruction to request you to use your good office to investigate the said offences which contravene sections 115(1) (f) & (i), 125 and 126(1) (i) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which are punishable under section 125, 126(3) (4) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“In order to facilitate your investigation, we hereby attach the tape of the tearing of ballot papers by Hon Salami to facilitate your investigation. Kindly accept the assurances of our highest esteem as we await your timely intervention in this regard.”