By EMMA UJAH, Abuja Bureau Chief, EMMA AZIKEN, Political Editor, & OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA—CHAIRMAN of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday, directed that some new ballot papers be printed locally between today and tomorrow to address the problem of missing party logos in some states.
He also ordered that raw data in the Direct Data Capturing, DDC, machines be printed out to address the problem of missing names in the voters’ register.
This came as the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, dismissed claims that the National Assembly would reconvene soon to remove the INEC chairman.
Vanguard gathered that the directive was one of the major highlights of the marathon closed-door meeting Jega held with Resident Electoral Officials and top officials of the Commission with a view to righting all wrongs that led to the one-week postponement of the general elections .
A source at the commission said: “In some areas for instance, where you had up to 2000 registered voters and at the end of the process you have only 400 names in the register is considered unacceptable. That is why the Chairman directed that the raw data in the DDC machines be printed out to assist us in determining the true picture of those that registered at each polling centre.”
Vanguard reliably gathered that 20 states were affected in this case where some parties’ logos were not contained in the ballot papers, as discovered last Saturday.
The exposure of the ballot papers also made it absolutely necessary to print new ones in areas where they were exposed and, therefore, compromised.
A source at the meeting said that Prof. Jega and his team did not want to leave the matter to chance, as it was generally agreed that unscrupulous members of the public could make the work of INEC difficult if the organization decided to use the already exposed materials.
Jega who met separately with the RECs and the Commission’s top officials was said to have also appealed for their full cooperation. He was said to have explained that he did not do anything deliberately to disregard their valuable contributions to the on-going process.
Vanguard also learnt that officials at the INEC headquarters were dissatisfied with Jega’s style of administration and that they were not prepared to fully support the process , a situation said to be capable of ruining efforts of the chairman.
The source said: “The chairman noted that his intentions could have been misunderstood and, therefore, appealed to all RECs and Commissioners, as well as staff of INEC that he did not mean to disregard anyone.” The meeting broke for dinner at about 8.30 and was to continue thereafter into the night.
We will do a post-mortem —Ekweremadu
Meanwhile calls for the removal of Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega on account of last weekend’s botched National Assembly polls were, yesterday, dismissed by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
While discountenancing speculations of a plot to reconvene the National Assembly for the purpose of removing Jega, Ekweremadu, however, assured that the National Assembly would undertake a post-mortem of the fiasco for the purpose of avoiding a recurrence.
The Deputy President of the Senate spoke against the background of speculations in Abuja that some powerful Nigerians, including some with linkages to the security establishment, were involved in a plot to oust Jega using the botched National Assembly elections as an excuse.
The plot it was claimed, flowed from insinuations that Jega’s political interests were supposedly not in tune with those of the powerful Nigerians.
Dismissing the claims that federal legislators were being mobilized to reconvene to concretise the Jega Must Go scheme, Ekweremadu said: “There is nothing like that. You cannot remove him at this time, there is nothing like that.”
Ekweremadu who was embedded in his Enugu West Senatorial district, however, affirmed that the Senate would, after the elections, re-examine the issues that led to the botched National Assembly elections of last Saturday.
He said: “Yes for sure we will do a post-mortem on the matter, but definitely not at this time. We should allow him to conclude what he has started for the benefit of all.”
Section 157 (1) spelling out provisions for the removal of the Chairman of INEC among other federal institutions states thus: “Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, a person holding any of the offices to which this section applies may only be removed from that office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct.”