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INEC uncovers fresh plot to rig elections

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Politicians hijack recruitment, deployment of Returning/Collation Officers
Chairman battles to sanitise process
Why Obasanjo slammed commission

By Jide Ajani

In line with his determination to ensure a free, fair and credible 2019 general election, National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is currently battling some forces who are attempting to compromise the electoral process through the intrumentality of the recruitment and deployment of Returning and Collation Officers across the country.

This comes barely 48 hours after the chairman revealed that a plot to use food vendors as vehicles to engage in vote buying was uncovered.

This fresh plot, which is being spearheaded by some powerful politicians, is alleged to be enjoying the tacit collusion of some equally powerful individuals in the commission.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Vanguard has been reliably informed that contrary to some of the resolutions reached at the commission’s meeting of Friday, December 21, 2018, on the recruitment of ad-hoc staff for the 2019 general elections, some cadres of staff would be handled at the state level for the purpose of fidelity, there are fresh indications that moves are being perfected to engage a quasi-centralisation of the recruitment and deployment of some critical ad-hoc staff for service at the state, local government and ward levels, thereby arousing curiosity from some quarters.

INEC ready for general election – Yakubu

Chairman battles to sanitise process

In fact, according to a memo, “From: Commission Secretariat To Secretary/INEC; Date: 21st December, 2018” and entitled “Decision extract on the recruitment of ad-hoc staff for the conduct of the 2019 general elections,” it details the cadre of ad-hoc positions, sourcing and general qualifications.

The memo states, inter alia, viz: “In order to ensure effective supervisory  control, and a good measure of credibility, the field of selection is proposed to be restricted to individuals/officials of politically neutral and non-partisan institutions, establishments and bodies.

“This demands traceable identities, addresses which makes disciplinary measures possible should the need arise. All categories of ad-hoc staff must satisfy the following four conditions, three of which are prescribed by the Electoral Act:

“They must not be political party members; They must not have demonstrated or expressed support for any candidate or party; All ad-hoc staff must apply in person, their group source notwithstanding, and they must subscribe to the oath of neutrality.”

However, there are fresh allegations that some powerful individuals may have infiltrated the recruitment process in such a manner as to compromise same by directly recruiting from politicians as well as centralizing the recruitment of all categories of collation and returning officers nationwide, contrary to an earlier directive at its December 2018 meeting.

This sudden possible change in decision and approach, Vanguard gathered, is being pushed by some politicians who hope to take absolute control of the process, with the intention of strategically placing their wards.

A very dependable source at the commission’s Zambezi Street headquarters in Abuja, said:  “In a situation whereby sensitive officers of the electoral process positioned to do the bidding of politicians would likely facilitate the planned switching of prepared results from the ward levels down to the last stage of collation using these collation officers, such an election is doomed.

“What would happen is that politicians would have prior access to some sensitive materials.  During the tenure of Professor Attahiru Jega, this sort of development was halted and pushed back, and that strict adherence to the rules, accounted for the smooth conduct of the 2015 general election.”

Upon enquiries at the INEC headquarters, Vanguard was told that the incumbent chairman, late last year, had “ignored an earlier proposal turned in for the same recruitment and deployment because it was fraught with negative possibilities of compromising the process.

“The Chairman stayed action initially and eventually did away with the proposal,” the source said.


Why Obasanjo slammed commission

Therefore, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his recent letter, Points for concern and action, suggested that INEC was not capable of conducting a free, fair and credible election, he was said to have been making indirect allusions to the goings-on at the election management body.

Vanguard gathered that Obasanjo, based on his wide network and contact, had been made aware of some developments in the electoral body that even its chairman is contending with.

Information available to Vanguard point to a determined resistance by the commission’s chairman.

Barring any last minute change of plans, it is expected to be a meeting of Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, with the commission’s high command in Abuja this week.

The meeting would be expected to clarify the commission’s position on recruitment and deployment of ad-hoc staff, as well as some other strategic issues that continue to create a strain on planning for next month’s election.


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