The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has warned the Presidency to jettison any plot to sack Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega ahead of the general elections, saying such move will be a “recipe for disaster”.
Speculations were rife on Thursday that the Presidency was contemplating removing the INEC boss before the March 28 and April 11 dates for elections, despite assurances by President Goodluck Jonathan about two weeks ago during a media chat that he had not informed anyone of plans to sack Jega.
In reaction to the speculation, the spokesperson for the group, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said “any attempt at this last minute by this government or its agency to remove Jega is a clear message that this government is determined to rig an election in which they see Jega as an impediment simply because he thinks that the commission must follow the rules for a free and fair and credible election”.
Sacking “Jega at this material time will be a recipe for disaster”, the NEF spokesperson warned at a press conference Friday.
He said the excuse given for postponement of the general elections, earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28, was “flimsy, clumsy and indefensible”.
Speaking against background of security concern cited for the poll shift, Abdullahi said, “the NEF viewed it as unacceptable because only a small fraction of the security personnel in the country are directly engaged in the battle against insurgency within the north east enclave of the country.
“We also know that even in countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and more recently Afghanistan where full scale wars were still raging when they decided that election could still be held and indeed were held”.
Stating further, he accused the “the ruling elite” of plot to scuttle the elections and ultimately Nigeria’s democracy.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday said Mr. Jega’s exit will follow a “natural course”, amid allegation by All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators that a letter from the Office of Head of Service, requesting the INEC boss to proceed on compulsory pre-retirement leave, has been prepared and to be served any time from next week.