*His removal is uncalled for, says INEC
By Ben Agande
ABUJAâ€”The continued stay in office or otherwise of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu took centre stage in Abuja yesterday as rival political groups staged protests against and in his support.
While the National Democratic Movement, NDM, and other groups yesterday called for his removal from office with a threat to mobilise for a boycott of the 2011 elections if he is reappointed, another group of registered political parties led by the chairman of the African Liberation Party, ALP, Mr Emmanuel Okereke said the call for the removal of Professor Iwu now is uncalled for.
But the spokesman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mr Emmanuel Umenger told Vanguard in Abuja yesterday that those calling for the removal of INEC chairman â€˜are encouraging the government to abridge the constitution which they swore to defendâ€™.
In a statement at the end of a one-day conference on electoral reforms jointly organised by the National Democratic Movement, NDM, the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms and the Good Governance Group, the groups noted that the flaws inherent in the electoral reforms are as much a threat to the security of the country as it is to democracy.
Ask FG to implement Uwais report
The group demanded that the Federal Government should commence the immediate implementation of the Justice Lawal Uwais report on electoral reforms with the removal of Iwu.
It further urged the Federal Government to call the electoral body to order and cause the withdrawal of the election time-table recently released by the commission because the time-table â€˜seeks to pre-empt and undermine the Uwais Report which recommends, at least six months between elections and inauguration, to allow for the settlement of all electoral litigations before candidates are sworn in.â€™
It further called on the National Assembly to hasten up work on the electoral act in order not to undermine electoral reforms.
But in its statement, a group of 30 political parties and some civil society organisations countered that the removal of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before the expiration of his tenure is not a solution to the electoral problems.
The group noted that the continued demonstration by civil society organisations and organised labour calling for the removal of the INEC chairman constitute a â€˜trivialisation of the concept of protests, demonstration and other civil exercise aimed at correcting a malfunctioning system.