APC, CNPP Warn Against Renewed Push to Remove Jega, Shift Polls

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) have expressed concern over an alleged bid to oust the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.

APC has also warned of the relentless scheming by the Jonathan administration and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) “to push for another postponement of the 2015 general election, unless they can perfect a rigging plan, and called for the imposition of global sanctions on whoever scuttles the polls”.

In a statement issued on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the multi-pronged effort to prevent the elections from holding as rescheduled included the use of some 23 portfolio political parties to seek a further shift in the election dates and the destabilisation of INEC's election plan through the orchestrated removal of its chairman.

It said the same 23 satellite parties of the PDP that were used to push for the six-week postponement of the elections have again started testing the waters by pushing for a further shift in the elections in the six states of the North-east, ostensibly to allow the conclusion of the counter-insurgency battle and also to allow those displaced to return home.

“The plan is to use the same bogey of insecurity in the North-east to push for another postponement in the elections. The signs are ominous indeed. The body language of the president and his party does not support the holding of elections.

“They are mortally afraid of losing because the use of PVCs and card readers have thwarted their rigging plans,” APC said.

The party said while the 23 parties are pushing for the elections to be further postponed, the Jonathan administration and the PDP are simultaneously forging ahead with their plan to remove Jega and replace him with a malleable acting chairman whom they believe would do their bidding.

“Once they remove Jega, his replacement will either seek more time to organise the polls or simply jettison the plan to use card readers, thereby opening the door for those who have been buying up PVCs to use them.

“Is it not interesting that the same administration that has been flaunting free and fair elections as a key achievement has now gone for the jugular of the same man who organised those polls? Is the man they don't want not the same person who organised the 2011 polls which the administration has described as free, fair and credible? What has now gone wrong between them and their poster boy for successful elections?” it queried.

APC warned that the consequences of another postponement of the elections would be dire, especially because it would create a constitutional crisis that is capable of endangering the country's democracy and destabilising the country in its entirety.

The party called on Nigerians, especially the civil society, to be very vigilant in the days ahead, “as the cloud of uncertainty becomes thicker and the vultures begin to circle”.

It also called on the international community to consider imposing stiff sanctions on key members of the Jonathan administration if they force another postponement or scuttle the polls.

“We believe that Nigerians themselves bear the utmost responsibility for the success of their nation’s democracy and the survival of their country, and we commend those who have stood up to be counted in the ongoing battle to have free and fair elections.

“However, we also believe that the international community has a role to play in helping to check the desperadoes who are using the Laurent Gbagbo rule book as if it was made for them, and who will not hesitate to bring the whole system crashing down on all if that is what it will take for them to perpetuate themselves in power.

“Nigeria is too important to be toyed with or allowed to go under. For example, Nigerians make up more than 56% of the estimated ECOWAS population of 300 million. A destabilised Nigeria therefore is a destabilised West Africa and, indeed, a hobbled Africa!

“That is why we believe a travel ban and tough economic sanctions from the international community against these agents of destabilisation will be in order. This is a patriotic call,” APC said.

On its part, CNPP has expressed outrage over the rumours gaining currency of the intendment of the presidency to remove Jega, and consequently cautioned President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to beware of the “Ides of March”.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, CNPP said a careful perusal of the statement made by the Minister of Culture and Tourism and the supervising Minister of Information, Chief Edem Duke, to the effect that “Jega wants to try a new system of accreditation without briefing the president over the issue” is vital.

CNPP quoted the minister as saying that no freedom is absolute and that Section 125 of the constitution forbids electronic voting, adding that although the card reader could not be used for voting, it is for checking votes, it signals danger.

“We are heartily cautioning Mr. President to beware of the Ides of March, not only because the month of March is the new date for the presidential election, but because a similar goading of former military president, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda (rtd) to mangle and manipulate the presidential election happened in 1993 and the unintended were consequences uncountable.

“Granted that General Babaginda survived the annulment of the June 12 (1993) presidential elections, it tainted irretrievably his regime and cost our dear countrymen blood, sweat and tears. This is avoidable as it definitely will be more disastrous, and may lead to bloodshed.

“Unfortunately, like in 1993, the  ‘Jonathan Must Stay Campaigners’ typical of the defunct Association of Better Nigeria (ABN) led by self-serving Senator Arthur Nzeribe are mutating and intensifying their campaigns for the elongation of Jonathan’s regime for less than altruistic motives.

“If history is to be revisited, we recall that in 2010 during the hey days of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua's  incapacity, the CNPP in coalition with other patriots, civil society organisations and the clergy led by Pastor Tunde Bakare formed the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and on the Abuja Streets and other major cities of the country canvassed for confirmation of the then Vice-President Jonathan as acting president and eventually full president.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Jega as chairman of INEC is neither a civil servant nor has he been indicted and therefore terms applicable to civil servants are not applicable to his appointment as chairman of INEC.

“The chairman of INEC's removal is explicitly stated in Section 157 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria thus: ‘A person holding any of the offices to which this section applies may only be removed from that office by the president acting on an address supported by a two-third majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office’.

“In sum, the Ides of March is a notorious date in the Roman Calender as the date Julius Ceaser was assassinated in 44 BC. Mr. President therefore should Beware of the Ides of March, go ahead and allow Jega to conclude the elections, unless he wants to fan the embers of some doomsayers that had predicted the disintegration of Nigeria,” it cautioned.

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