The plot to sack the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, is gathering momentum, The PUNCH investigations have revealed.
Jega’s tenure ends on June 30 but his traducers, especially some Peoples Democratic Party members, are already compiling what they described as his ‘sins’ to ensure that he proceeds on terminal leave before the March 28 and April 11 elections.
Findings on Monday revealed that the “sins,” include alleged transfer of some INEC officials considered close to them out of their departments where their input might not be useful in the conduct of the elections.
It was also gathered that the PDP members, who are close to the Presidency, feel that Jega is becoming unapproachable on issues.
A source in the Presidency, who did not want his name in print, said that the reason the INEC boss gave for the postponement of the elections had negatively affected the credibility of the Presidency and the PDP.
He said, “The way Jega spoke at the press briefing where he announced the postponement of the polls, was meant to implicate the PDP and the Presidency.
“This was why everybody, including foreign governments, have been blaming the leadership of the country for the postponement of the elections.
“The summary of Jega’s presentation was that INEC was ready but that the security agencies, whose headships are appointees of the President, frustrated the commission’s desire to hold the elections on February 14 and 28.”
He added that some national leaders of the PDP would meet with President Goodluck Jonathan and members of his electioneering team this week to review the presidential campaign.
The meeting, according to him, will also “discuss the wisdom in sending Jega on terminal leave any moment from now because of his perceived sins.”
He added, “Close friends of the President in the party and the stakeholders will meet to review the campaigns and I can tell you that the issue about Jega matter would certainly be discussed.
“We have received several reports on this matter and I can assure you that it would be looked into and a decision taken.”
Further investigations however showed that before the postponement of the elections, the military had directed its commands nationwide to prepare operational methodology for the exercise.
A reliable military officer told The PUNCH in Abuja that they were surprised to hear Jega blame the poll postponement on the unpreparedness of the military.
He said, “We were astonished to hear that we were not prepared and all that. How many officers do we have in the North-East? How many of our men were deployed for the last governorship election in Osun State? So there are things we have not been told about the elections.”
However, some political parties under the aegis of the Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, have vowed to frustrate any attempt to stop Jega from conducting the elections.
They warned at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, that Jega’s removal would affect the credibility of the elections.
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Movement, Bashir Ibrahim, who spoke for the group, said that though the INEC chairman played into the hands of the PDP by rescheduling the election dates, “we are going to resist the move to remove him from office.
“The role of the election management board led by Jega in shifting the dates of the election may not be the best, but any move to remove him will be resisted,” Bashir added.
The leader of COP said that if the INEC chairman was removed, it would show that the shift was engineered by the ruling PDP for ulterior motives.
Also on Monday, a coalition of 18 civil society organisations called for the immediate resignation of the service chiefs “for arm-twisting INEC’’ and for abdication of national responsibility.
The CSOs which passed a vote of confidence in Jega, explained that they were calling for the resignation of the service chiefs because their action was “a clear indication of the abyss to which the military had descended to.”
The Chairman of the Transitional Monitoring Group, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, spoke on behalf of the CSOs at a news conference in Abuja.
He said, “The most worrisome reality is that the Nigerian military, which is supposed to be nationalistic and patriotic in outlook, has allowed itself to be led by those they serve for expressly narrow interests.
“To say the least, the military has failed the Nigerian people. It is a betrayal of trust for the military in connivance with the National Security Adviser to have allowed itself to be used to suspend Nigeria’s electoral process.
“The grand conspiracy to arm-twist INEC to shift the 2015 general elections to satisfy narrow political considerations is a clear indication of the abyss to which the military has descended.
“The claim that they will not be able to protect INEC personnel and materials for the polls that were to hold on 14 and 28 February 2015, is a national disgrace and embarrassment.”
Zikirullahi stated that the excuse by the military that it needed “to concentrate on the fight against Boko Haram, is untenable.”
He wondered the kind of magic the Chief of Defence Staff and the NSA wanted to perform to deal with Boko Haram in six weeks that it could not do in six years.
Zikirullahi added that the CDS had in the past fed Nigerians with lies pertaining to the ongoing fight against insurgency and therefore called on all security chiefs and the NSA to bury their heads in shame and resign.
“The Civil Society Coalition hereby calls for their immediate resignation, for abdicating a national responsibility, and attempting to drown the voices of the Nigerian people. The current military high command, if they still have any iota of honour and good conscience, should immediately vacate their positions,” he insisted.
Zikirullahi advised Jega to resist any attempt to push him out of office.
“This coalition respects and understands INEC’s position that it was ready to go ahead with the elections, until the military decided to abdicate its constitutional duty,” he stressed.