A coalition of Civil Society organisations and Election observer groups have said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu should not be dragged into ongoing ethnic politics.
The group said the role of the INEC boss is so critical to the nation’s democracy that he should be left out of any form of ethnic agenda.
Apparently reacting to recent calls by the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum, the group said the call was more of an ethnic agenda, rather than about the development of the nation’s democracy, even as it urged Nigerians to disregard such calls.
Addressing a joint press conference in Abuja, Executive Director, Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group,
Dr. Chima Amadi as well as Ezenwa Nwagwu of Partners for Electoral Reforms described those behind the call for Yakubu’s sack as “ethnic entrepreneurs” who are determined to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and diminish the democratic gains our country has made since the return to civil rule in 1999.
Others who jointly addressed journalists included, Ledum Mitee, former MOSOP President, Okechukwu Nwanguma of the Network of Police Reform in Nigeria and Barr. Aminu Mahmud of Public Interest Lawyers League
Dr Chima who addressed on behalf of the coalitions said the recent call by the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum as unfortunate.
He explained that while the coalition doesnt hold the fort for the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, theyare compelled to respond by stating the facts as they are and exposing the hollow claims of ethnic entrepreneurs, masquerading as leaders.
He said, “For us, the claim that there are “accumulated indications”, suggesting that the INEC Chairman will rig the 2019 elections in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari is not only stupid but silly. If there are accumulated indications, they point to those successful governorship elections conducted in Bayelsa and Rivers states respectively by the selfsame Professor Mahmood Yakubu and won by the opposition parties.
“Will these Elders tell us that they are oblivious of the numerous elections conducted by the current INEC which produced different outcomes for different political parties irrespective of incumbency at both the Federal or State level.
“The latest is the Ibarapa East State Constituency bye-election in Oyo State in which the opposition party in the State won the seat. This is significant against the background of the Local Government election in the State three weeks earlier in which the ruling party in the State won every Chairmanship and Councillorship constituency.
“Of course, the Anambra State Governorship election is still fresh on our minds in which the candidate of the ruling party lost in every Local Government Area to the extent that even the Ohaneze commended INEC for its transparency in conducting the elections? Two months later, the same INEC successfully concluded the Anambra Central Senatorial election after staying the course in a protracted legal battle.
“The Ondo Governorship election was also a watershed. For the first time, the outcome of the election was not challenged in court because of its transparency although the three leading candidates were senior lawyers. This is significant given the fact that a number of previous governorship elections in the State were in fact determined by the courts.”
He said if the INEC Chairman was working for Buhari, why didn’t he hand the aforementioned states over to the ruling party or secured victories for Buhari and his ruling party in the bye-elections held in Dukku North constituency in Gombe state, Ardo Kola in Taraba, Osun West Senatorial Zone won by the opposition parties?
He went further to explain that the Independent National Electoral Commission as the Election Management Body is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, by virtue of Section 153(1)(f) and its Chairman is appointed by the President, subject to the Senate, by virtue of Section 154(1) of the said Constitution.
According to the qualification for appointment of the Chairman is set out in Section 14(1) Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution which stated thus: ” a chairman, who shall be the Chief Electoral Commissioner, shall be person[s] of unquestionable integrity and not less than fifty years of age”.