The House of Representatives on Tuesday warned the Federal Government against tampering with the existing “arrangements” for the March 28 elections, particularly the removal of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
The House noted that changing the election plans either by further extending the dates or removing Jega would only lead to a magnitude of violence, worse than what was witnessed after the 2011 polls.
In a resolution in Abuja, the House drew the attention of the political class, the Federal Government, state governments and security agencies to warnings of unavoidable violence already issued by eminent Nigerians and groups, both on the international and local scenes.
The resolution was taken following a motion moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Ali Ahmad.
The development came as the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, at a separate session, raised the alarm that the dark days of military coups might return if the country continued to progress in error.
During Tuesday’s plenary, lawmakers also warned that “persons” whose actions would have led to such violence must be held accountable at all judicial levels.
Part of their resolution read, “Hold personally accountable at domestic judicial forum or at the International Court of Justice, any persons or organisations that foist on INEC any decision or action whatsoever, including unconstitutional attempt to remove the current INEC chairman, that has the effect of making it impracticable for elections to hold on 28th March and 11th April, 2015.”
Besides, members made it clear that removing the INEC chairman would be unconstitutional except if it secured the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, as prescribed in Section. 157(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
“Such removal can only be achieved when two things happen, viz, (a) his inability to discharge the functions of the office, or (b) for misconduct, as determined by two-thirds of the Senate,” the resolution added.
The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House made spirited attempts to stop the motion but failed.
The House Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, had raised an objection on the grounds that the motion was “speculative” as there was no evidence suggesting that Jega was about to be removed.
“Nobody is interested in removing Jega; so, we can’t entertain such a speculative motion,” Ogor protested.
But, he was overruled by Tambuwal and the motion was passed in a majority voice vote.
The Speaker also did not allow members to debate the motion, a move that earned him murmurs from some PDP lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Tambuwal, while speaking at a meeting with a coalition of civil society groups, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, observed that the “signs” of a possible return to dark days in Nigeria were everywhere for all to see.
He stated that apart from alleged plans to use Civil Service rules to force Jega out of office, the suggestion of an interim government by some groups was “treasonable.”
The speaker said, “Any form of government outside our constitution is a coup. Why are the security agencies not charging such persons with treasonable felony?
“Some individuals are bent on ensuring that the elections do not hold or in the alternative, create scenarios that will make the conduct of the polls impossible for INEC.
The speaker, who said “power belongs to God” and Him alone decides whom to give, advised the political class against attempting to oppose God and the will of the people.
He spoke further, “Some individuals are not interested in a free and fair process of elections.
“You should remember that people voted you into power; if the same people are saying go and rest through a free and fair process, then respect their decision.
“Some persons occupied these offices before we came in. What would have happened if they refused to vacate the offices for us?
“Not up to 10 per cent of Nigerians are politicians; what happens to the remaining 90 per cent ? In any case, there has to be a country to govern.
“Are we as a nation ordinarily supposed to be where they are today?”
The CSO representatives , who were led by Clement Nwankwo, had earlier raised fears over what they considered to be troubling signs of a possible interference with the democratic process in the country.
They said that a similar meeting would be held with the President of the Senate, David Mark, and a final round with President Goodluck Jonathan to harp on the dangers of frustrating the democratic processes.