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Reps, Emerhor, others warn against Jega’s removal, group disagrees

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WITHOUT debate, the House of Representatives yesterday warned against any move to remove the current Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, from office.

   The warning followed a motion to that effect by Ali Ahmad under matters of urgent public importance. Attempt by the Deputy Majority Leader, Leo Ogor, to dismiss the two prayers of the motion via a Point of Order that “nobody is interested in removing Jega” was declined by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who presided at the session.

   Just as the O’tega Emerhor Campaign Organisation has also joined in the condemning the plot to remove Jega.

  In a statement by its Director of Publicity, Dr. Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Delta State “wondered why any sensible person will call for the removal of Jega at this critical time.”

    “Such a call is an invitation to anarchy,” the statement said. 

    Emerhor urged the PDP and all Nigerians to allow INEC do its work, calling the clamour for Jega’s removal a distraction.

   Also, Tambuwal and the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCS-SR) have flayed what they described as “orchestrated attempt” to oust Prof. Attahiru Jega, saying the development would be unconstitutional and counter-productive for the sustenance of the democratic structure in the country.

   Tambuwal, who spoke yesterday when he received members of the NCS-SR who paid him a courtesy visit at the National Assembly, also declared that only the National Assembly had the constitutional mandate to give vent to a state of emergency via the approval of a two-thirds majority of members.

   The chamber, which threatened to take any person or organisation that foists on INEC any decision or action that would mar the sanctity of the rescheduled election to the International Criminal Court (ICC), vowed to resist any further move to abort the rescheduled general election.

   Adopting the motion, the House vowed to “hold personally accountable at domestic judicial forum or at the International Criminal Court any person or organisation that foists on INEC any decision or action whatsoever, including unconstitutional attempt to remove the current INEC chairman, that has the effect of making it impracticable for the elections to hold.”

   Ahmad had expressed worry at the “existence of documented evidence” from several sources to the effect that any change in status quo, especially the removal of the INEC chairman, would ‘present a possibility of violence’ and ‘would occasion the sowing of seeds of a major crisis.’”

   According to him, such removal will be unconstitutional given the decision of the Supreme Court on the removal of chairman or members of such an independent electoral body as INEC, pursuant to Section 157 (1) of the constitution, which clearly defines how it could be achieved.

   The removal of such officials, he contended, could only be facilitated on account of “inability to discharge the functions of the office or misconduct, as determined by 2/3 majority of the Senate,” just as he cited the case of the Governor of Kwara State V. Ojibara 2007.

   Meanwhile, a pressure group, Coalition for Democratic Nigeria (CDN) has called on Jega to step aside if he cannot guarantee all eligible voters the right to exercise their civic responsibilities in the forthcoming elections.

   Coordinator of the group, Dr. Adegbola Dominic in a statement yesterday urged the INEC boss to allow for the use of Temporary Voters Cards (TVCs) for those who are unable to get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) owing to the shoddy preparation by the electoral body.

   According to Dominic, the group is not interested in Jega’s removal as INEC boss but worried over what will become the fate of millions of Nigerians who are yet to collect their PVCs, which is the only criteria for voting.

   “In a couple of days, it will be the 8th of March, the last day set by INEC for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards. However, millions of Nigerians are still milling around, back and forth INEC collection centres in search of their PVCs which have proved intractable.

   “It is unlikely that this state of affairs can be reversed by the 8th of March 2015, or even beyond.”

    “INEC has repeatedly updated the nation with percentage figures of distribution and collection of PVCs, which it put at 78.9 per cent in the last instance. This still leaves about 14 million Nigerians potentially disenfranchised. This is absolutely unacceptable”.

 Percentages could be relevant perhaps when considering voter-turn out. However, for any election to be credible, it must be transparently free and fair, with all eligible voters freely exercising their franchise as it happened in 2011 general elections and in the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states under the watch of Prof. Jega – 100 percent of them, not 78.9 percent.”

   He said, “We support the use of PVCs and card readers if they function properly because it will help to detect fraud during the voting exercise.”

“Any such deliberately induced violence may snowball, as it did in 2011 post-election period, into widespread or systematic attack, persecution, arson, murder, thereby amounting to serious crimes of concern to the international community, as contained in Article 5 of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Nigeria is signatory.”

 



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