By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- THE Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP,has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari was planning a change of leadership in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, following the shift in the conduct of 2019 general elections.
CUPP alleged that the president’s plan was against the backdrop of his unfavorable disposition to the postponement which stopped the staggered elections as allegedly
planned by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
In a statement by its spokesman,Ikenga Ugochinyere,CUPP said it was raising” the alarm over move by Buhari to suspend INEC chairman and appoint Amina Zakari as Acting Chairman under the guise of INEC inability to Conduct Election today (Saturday).
The statement read thus:”The Coalition of United Political Parties is alerting the world of plan and decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to announce the suspension of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, from office.
“The President has also pencilled down Amina Zakari for appointment as the Acting Chairman citing her experience as the oldest and most experienced National Commissioner of the Commission.
“The President is planning to use the excuse of inability to hold election today as a reason for the imminent suspension. Feigning ignorance of the real reasons behind the shift, the President in his earlier statement today did not have just a word for the shameful and despicable actions of security forces and the central Bank staff who in obedience to Presidency directives deliberately sabotaged the distribution of sensitive materials in selected states.
“We are aware that his hurried return to Abuja today from his home state, Katsina is to sack the INEC boss. But this should be resisted by all well meaning Nigerians and the international community.
“The sin of the INEC Chairman is that he refused to conduct staggered elections that will allow the President and his men to manipulate the process. The Presidency had mounted pressure on the Commission to conduct election today in states where there were no issues and postpone only the states with materials distribution issues. The INEC Chairman insisted on conducting the election at the same time hence warranting the postponement of the entire election.
“We hereby warn President Buhari that the position of the INEC Chairman is independent, hence, he cannot be removed from office via suspension. The 1999 Constitution in Section 157(1) states that the Chairman and members of the Commission may only be removed by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate that the person be 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
“We are aware that the government itself sabotaged INEC distribution of materials and he is turning around to suspend the Chairman of INEC illegally.
“We are warning that any attempt to sack or suspend the INEC Chairman will only lead to electoral and constitutional crisis. The nation is still grappling with the illegality and unconstitutionality of the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President wants to go down this ignoble path again.
“If the President has ears, let him hear.”