Loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan under the aegis of Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) on Thursday called for the sack and arrest of the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, for allegedly registering and issuing Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) to minors in the Northern part of the country.
The group led by Ijaw nationalist, Edwin Clark, said the registration and issuance of PVC to minors in the North was a grand plan by the INEC chairman to shore up the voting figure in the area so as to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan does not win the forthcoming presidential election.
Among the sins of Jega as listed by the group include taking of unilateral decisions to produce the PVC without recourse to the Public Procurement Act.
The group at a press conference in Abuja insisted that the scheduled February 14 presidential election must be postponed till April while another person must be appointed to oversea the conduct of the election.
Failure to adhere to its suggestion, the group said it may be driven to the point of using violence to stop the elections in the southern states of the country.
Among those at the press conference were a former Minister of Information, Walter Ofonagoro; a former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chuwuemeka Ezeife; a former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Whisky Ayakeme; the National Vice-chairman of the PDP in the South South, Dr. Cairo Ojugboh, and Senator Femi Okurounmu.
Okurounmu, who read a prepared speech on behalf of the SNPA in asking for the postponement of the election said: “There should be immediate postponement of the February 14 presidential elections to allow for the reconstitution, repositioning and reprocessing of INEC to discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election.”
Asking for the immediate vacation of office by the INEC chairman, the SNPA said Prof. Jega should and must resign his appointment as the chairman of INEC because “he has lost the requisite moral rectitude to organise a credible election devoid of the shenanigans of the Northern Elders and their cohorts.”
The group went further to issue a threat on the nation just as it called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Prof. Jega.
“We call for the immediate arrest of Prof. Jega for criminally masterminding the procurement of PVCs for under-aged pupils in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act, 2000.
“Where the Federal Government fails to take decisive action on these demands, we shall employ and mobilise 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 the country. Therefore, government must not allow itself to be intimidated by any group of persons to conduct the election under these uncertain circumstances that could culminate in the breakdown of law and order in the country. The consequences may be too grave for Nigeria to bear,” the group stated.
The SNPA in accusing Jega of partiality, and flouting of extant laws in the production of the PVC asked the INEC chairman to answer the following questions: “At what meeting in INEC was the decision to award the contract for the procurement of the PVCS taken? At what time and where were the contract documents forwarded to the Bureau of Public Procurement for consideration and approval? And indeed, where were the PVCS being processed and printed?
“Are the PVCS being printed abroad with a reputable firm or they are being printed somewhere in Nigeria within the enclave of Maitama in Abuja? What is the cost of the contract for the procurement of PVCs?”
The SNPA accused Jega of being “an ethnic and religious jingoist” as well as “an unrepentant Hausa Fulani irredentist and a highly tribalised public administrator”.
The group openly expressed doubts about the impartiality of Jega to conduct a free and credible election, saying he has been hobnobbing with the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) to deny President Jonathan of victory.
“We are not convinced that an INEC superintended by Prof. Jega would have any iota of impartiality to conduct a free and fair election in this country any more.
“Prof. Jega’s open romance, either directly or indirectly with elements of the opposition, has compromised his integrity, credibility and moral standing to conduct an impartial, free and fair 2015 presidential elections,” the group alleged.