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Cablegate: Nigeria's Edo State Riven Over Tribunals, Lg Elections

VZCZCXRO4369
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0685 2921415
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191415Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9499
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9270
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LAGOS 000685

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA'S EDO STATE RIVEN OVER TRIBUNALS, LG ELECTIONS

REF A: LAGOS 629
REF B: LAGOS 601

1. (U) Summary: The Edo State Election Petition Tribunal has been
sitting daily to expedite proceedings, but has no jurisdiction to
hear complaints alleging violent intimidation of witnesses. Edo
State opposition parties will boycott November local government
elections. Sitting Governor Osunbor's five month tenure has been
filled with empty promises. End Summary.

-------------------------------------------
Tribunal Sits Daily to Expedite Proceedings
-------------------------------------------

2. (U) On October 3, Poloff and Polspecialist observed proceedings
at the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal in Benin City. The
tribunal, which has been sitting daily in its bid to accelerate the
proceedings, ruled on several motions and heard complaints regarding
the harassment and intimidation of several witnesses. Niyi
Akintola, attorney to Action Congress (AC) candidate Adams
Oshiomhole alleged that thugs loyal to Governor Oserheimen Osunbor
had burned down a property belonging to an Oshiomhole witness only a
day before the witness was due to testify before the Tribunal. The
attorney also alleged that local chiefs and politicians in several
communities had threatened reprisals against witnesses appearing for
Oshiomhole. An attorney for the PDP alleged that police had detained
one of his key witnesses on the day the witness was to appear before
the Tribunal. The Tribunal called for restraint among the parties to
the petition but noted it does not have jurisdiction to entertain
complaints involving criminal actions.

3. (SBU) AC candidate Adams Oshiomhole told Poloff the Tribunal had
rejected all motions brought by sitting People's Democratic Party
(PDP) Governor Oserheimen Osunbor and was "proceeding justly."
Another AC party interlocutor commented there was no reason "right
now" to doubt the Tribunal's integrity.

--------------------------------------------- --
Opposition Continues Protest Against Commission
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (SBU) Representatives of several Edo State opposition parties
told Poloffs they will not participate in the November 15 local
government elections. In spite of a court ruling declaring the
inauguration of a new election commission unconstitutional (Ref A),
Governor Osunbor continues to fund the commission. An AC lawyer
told Poloffs his party will not participate in any election
organized by the new commission because to do so would amount to
support for an illegal entity. The Edo State PDP Chairman told
Poloffs the election will be held according to the time table
published by the new commission for the election.

--------------------------------------
Osunbor Has Failed to Fulfill Promises
--------------------------------------

5. (SBU) In separate meetings, National Conscience Party (NCP)
representatives and the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of
Journalists (NUJ) told Poloffs that Governor Osunbor's five months
in office have been characterized by empty promises. Public service
is "dismal" and no significant improvement in infrastructure or
medical care has been made. Our interlocutors suggested Osunbor
would perform as incompetently and corruptly as did former Governor
Lucky Igbinedion. However, one interlocutor said he saw from
personal experience that Osunbor's advisors were partly to blame; he
said they are either incompetent or unwilling to identify problem
areas and suggest solutions to the Governor.

6. (SBU) Comment: The Election Tribunal has thus far rejected PDP
motions and objections, which are widely seen as delaying tactics,
in favor of Oshiomhole's position, and appears to be rendering
impartial judgments. Poloffs observed throughout the trip that
support for Oshiomhole in Benin City remained strong. Nonetheless,
it remains to be seen how great an influence witness intimidation
and attempts to influence the judges, alluded to by one
interlocutor, will have on the ultimate decision. End Comment.

HUTCHINSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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