Professor Mahmood Yakubu
By Olayinka Ajayi
The Independent National Electoral Commission , INEC, has debunked allegations of moves to unseat its National Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
Speaking on Channels Television, Politics Today, INEC National Commissioner for information and Voters education, Festus Okoye who disclosed that the commission is under pressure to deliver a free, fair and credible elections insisted that the appointment and removal of the commission’s national chairman is not an easy task.
According to Mr. Okoye: “There’s pressure from Nigerians for the commission to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
“The appointment and removal of the INEC Chairman is constitutionally inclined. The process and appointment of the Chairman is a very rigorous process. The President makes a nomination which goes to the council of states, thereafter, it goes to the National Assembly for confirmation, before it comes back to the president who makes the appointment.
“The process and the removal of the chairman is also a very rigorous process. First , there must be an allegation and that allegation must conform to the provision of the constitution. Thereafter the allegation would be made to the president and the president will now approach the National Assembly asking the National Assembly to remove the chairman of the commission for infraction of the constitution.
“Section 25 of the Electoral Act makes the chairman of the commission the returning officer of the presidential election and section 25 makes the chairman the Chief Commissioner of the Federation. So without the chairman of the commission, you cannot make a return for a presidential election.
Also, if you look at section 122 sub section 2, and section 178 sub section, the two reveal that the presidential election and the governorship election are constitutionally circumscribed. So any challenge to deviate from it would create a constitutional challenge.
Asked how difficult it is to rig elections, Okoye said: “the issue of rigging elections is not only the electoral infraction that I know of within the electoral legal framework. What we have been doing is that we keep on innovating , creative and keep on improving in every election. With every election we learn lessons.
“If you look at the trajectory of our election, at a certain time you will notice that the smart card reader was a game changer. But after two electoral cycles, we felt that it was time to upgrade and introduce certain technologies into our elections, so we introduced the BIVAS.
“BIVAS for us is a game changer to curtail those who have been identified with identity theft. We are confident that with the measures we have put in place, it will be difficult for those who buy PVC to get to the polling units and it will be difficult to those who do identity theft to break into the BIVAS”.