By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—SOUTHERN leaders, yesterday, reiterated their call for the resignation of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, accusing him of acting a script for the northern part of the country to declare the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, General Muhammadu Buhari, rtd, from the north as winner of the yet to be conducted Presidential election.
According to the leaders, there were plans to rig the 2015 election hatched by the Northern Elders Forum in collaboration with Professor Jega-led INEC. They said “as a responsible government agency, it is only germane that Nigerians, whose tax monies are used to fund its operations, are properly informed on these critical aspects of INEC’s activities. We make bold to say that Prof. Jega has betrayed public trust, respect and acceptance, sublime attributes that are necessary for an impartial electoral umpire.”
The southern leaders on the banner of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, SNPA, said Jega was promoting an ethnic agenda by favouring the North against the South, with what they termed an unholy conspiracy between INEC and the Northern Elders to install a Northern President through rigging.
Present at the briefing were Senator Femi Okurounmu who signed the statement for Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu; former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife signed for former Vice President Alex Ekwueme; Senator Femi Okurounmu signed for Archbishop Ladigbolu, as
well as former Minister of Information, Walter Ofonagoro; a former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Chief Whisky Ayakeme; Dr. Cairo Ojuogboh, among others.
Reading an 8- page text for the SNPA, Senator Femi Okurounmu who represented Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, called for the postponement of this month’s Presidential and general elections to allow the Federal government reposition INEC and make it discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election effectively
The leaders also called for the immediate arrest of the INEC Chairman over allegation that he has criminally masterminded the procurement of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs for under- aged pupils in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended and the Electoral Act, 2010.
The Southern leaders threatened that should the president fail to sack Jega and refuse to postpone the already fixed elections, they would ensure that the people of the South West, South South and South East do not participate in the February 14 and 28 general elections, adding that if INEC goes ahead with the polls with Jega Presiding, “the consequences may be too grave for Nigeria to bear.”
At the briefing, one time Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark displayed some PVCs allegedly owned by under- aged pupils to buttress the group’s call for Jega’s immediate arrest for registering those pupils contrary to the constitution and Electoral Act, just as they accused Jega of stopping the implementation of additional polling units in the south, but
gradually using the new units in the north.
The leaders said, “Consequent upon the foregoing, the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, SNPA, wish to make the following unequivocal demands, which if not complied forthwith, would compel us to consider every necessary step to force compliance.
“Professor Jega, should and must resign his appointment immediately as the Chairman of INEC because he has lost the requisite moral rectitude to organize a credible election devoid of the shenanigans of the Northern Elders Forum and their cohorts.
“There should be immediate postponement of the February 14, 2015 presidential elections to allow for the reconstitution, repositioning and reprocessing of INEC to discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election.
“We call for the immediate arrest of Prof. Attahiru Jega for criminally masterminding the procurement of PVCs for under-aged pupils in contravention of the provisrons of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 Where the Federal Government fail to take decisive action on these demands e shall employ and mobilize with all ounce of energy at our disposal to ensure that there is no election in any part of Southern Nigeria.
“We wish to remind Mr. President that the Federal Government has the sacrosanct duty to maintain peace and order, and to protect the lives and property of the citizens of this country. Therefore government must not allow itself to be intimidated by any group of persons to conduct the elections under these uncertain circumstances that could culminate in the break down of law and order in the country The consequences may be too grave for Nigeria to bear.”
The Southern leaders alleged in their statement, that INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, through one of his National Commissioners “met with select leaders of the Northern Elders Forum led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi on the 16th’’ August, 2014 where strategies and modalities for enthroning a President of Northern extraction through vote rigging were discussed and agreed upon.
“As part of the grand design, Prof. Jega agreed in the meeting to create astronomical number of additional polling units in the North, over and above what is desirable to ensure the election of a Northern Presidential candidate, that would emerge from the party primaries, in the general election. We now know that this was responsible for Prof. Jega’s whimsical creation of additional 30,000 polling units with intent to give unearned massive votes to the northern presidential candidate. These additional polling units were agreed to exist only on “sheet of papers” which would be used as votes mill to rig the election. This means therefore that the acclaimed suspension of the implementation of the additional 30,000 polling units by Prof. Jega is a grand deceit as same is reported to have continued in parts of the North under cover”.