By Ben Agande
Â ABUJA â€” There was an increased security presence at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, headquarters in Abuja yesterday as a detachment of armed policemen was deployed in the commission and visitors were subjected to thorough screening before being allowed in.
Though reasons for the increased police presence are unknown, Vanguard gathered that it might not be unconnected with the planned handover by the former chairman of the commission, Professor Maurice Iwu, today.
Prof. Iwu who was directed to proceed on leave last Wednesday, was still seen in office on Thursday and Friday.
There were speculations yesterday that the Federal Government is not comfortable with the combative posture of man designated to act as chairman of the commission and was considering reversing the decision, asking Commissioner Chukwuani to also proceed on leave in order for Iwu to hand over to him.
The three deputy secretaries in the commissionâ€” Steve Osemeke, Pastor Johnson and Mr Mohammed Madakiâ€” who are in charge of Publicity, Administration and Operations were asked to prepare and submit the hand over notes in respect of the departments under them before the end of work yesterday.
The takeover by Philip UmeadiÂ as Acting Chairman has, however, createdÂ anxiety in the commission as staff seen to be loyal to the former chairman are said to be afraid for their jobs
Upon taking over, Umeadi quickly reversed some of the decisions taken by Iwu, including the cancellation of the planned interview for prospective staff of the commission scheduled for last weekend.
He also summoned some of the staff who were transferred out of the headquarters of the commission to report back to Abuja, ostensibly to take over their position, although there is no memo to that effect.