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Southern, Middle Belt leaders call for Yakubu’s suspension

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The Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum has called for suspension of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.

In a four-point communiqué titled: ‘Our Case Against 2019 Elections Preparations’, issued after its meeting in Lagos yesterday, the forum said Prof. Yakubu has demonstrated gross betrayal of public trust over his conduct regarding the Kano State under age voters incidence.

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi dismissed the allegation that the commission is yet to release the report of its findings about the Kano under age voters’

According to him, “It was not only that the commission released the report, it also called a press conference in Abuja where the chairman addressed the media and the public on its findings about the Kano incidence.

For anybody to now say the commission is playing game with the report by not releasing it is unwarranted

The communiqué signed by Mr. Yinka Odumakin of Southwest; Senator Bassey Henshaw of South South; Prof. Chigozie Ogbu of Southeast and Dr Isuwa Dogo of Middle Belt after its meeting Lagos yesterday, which was a follow up to the one it held earlier in Abuja recently, the forum accused Yakubu of reneging his promise to fully investigate the Kano State under age voters’ incidence.

It would be recalled that the INEC chairman promised during a conference organised by the INEC in Lagos on February 16 2018 that the under age voters’ incidence in Kano State would be fully investigated.

However, the forum observed that five months after Yakubu’s commitment and prompt conclusion of the assignment by the team set up, INEC has refused to release the report which would necessary have necessitated a nationwide interrogation of the Voter Register.

The forum said information at its disposal is that the report of the committee is so damning and the reason why he (Yakubu) is doing a macabre dance on it.

The forum therefore wondered how Yakubu, who is handling such sensitive issue of public knowledge to be fair on matters relating to free and fair elections that would not be in the public glare.
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The Southern and Middle Belt leaders also expressed worry that intelligence report at its disposal was that a large number of mercenary voters have been registered from neighboring countries especially from Niger Republic under the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise, which could have been one of the reasons why the Federal Government is in a haste to construct a rail line from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic, saying that money has already been appropriated for this in the 2018 budget.

The forum therefore demands immediate release of INEC report on the Kano underage voters scandal, interrogation of the Voter Register by a Judicial Commission with representatives international and local elections observers to check cases of underage voters and foreign mercenaries before the 2019 elections, saying this is very necessary as INEC cannot be a judge in its own cause.

Also, the forum demanded that the probe should be extended to the fake INEC results centre discovered in Rivers State last year and the printing press responsible, which has since been swept under the carpet.

It added that Yakubu must be suspended while the investigation is on to prevent intervention with the probe.

The forum also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig the present security apparatus, saying, “We are uncomfortable with the impunity and gross lopsidedness of appointments into the security architecture of the country and going into election season.

What special services have the three main Security Chiefs rendered to the defense system for the president to keep them in office if not they may be used for partisan roles?

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“How would all sections of the country have confidence in the security arrangement for elections when 16 out of 17 service chiefs are from a section of the country?

According to Rotimi, “The findings of the Abubakar Nahuche-led Committee that investigated the Kano underage saga were unveiled at a press briefing in Abuja, which was widely covered, published and aired by the print/broadcast media. Some newspapers even published editorials on the findings.

“At the briefing Prof. Yakubu explained, among other things, that local government elections are not conducted by the commission but by the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs).

In the case of Kano, the commission was only interested in whether its Voter’s Register was used for the election. It was discovered that the Register was not widely used.”

Rotimi also said another revelation was that some of the underage voting clips being circulated on the Social Media were recorded pre-2015 general elections.

He stressed: “More importantly, the same Voter’s Register was used in the last Kano governorship election and other off-season elections with no allegations of underage voters.

The Commission has not added names to the Register. The political parties have a copy of the Register and none of them has ever complained.

“It is thus curious that anybody can come out to say that the Commission has not released the report. That is not true.”


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