Supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan have called for the resignation and arrest of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
The supporters, under the aegis of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly, led by a one-time information minister, Chief Edwin Clark, made the demand at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
Among those at the briefing were a former Minister of Information, Walter Ofonagoro; a former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chuwuemeka Ezeife; a former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Chief Whisky Ayakeme; Dr. Cairo Ojugboh and Senator Femi Okunronmu.
The Jonathan supporters also demanded the postponement of the February elections.
They accused Jega of conniving with northern leaders to rig Jonathan out of the election.
For example, they alleged that Jega had been hobnobbing with members of the Northern Elders’ Forum.
Specifically, the group said that Jega sent a representative to NEF meeting under the leadership of a former vice chancellor of a federal university (name withheld) on August 20, 2014.
They alleged that rigging methods were discussed at the NEF meeting.
Clark and the others said another meeting of the NEF held at Arewa House, Kaduna, under the leadership of a retired ambassador, where the Clark’s group alleged that it was agreed that “all avenues must be explored towards entrenching a president of northern extraction in the forthcoming 2015 elections.”
The Clark-led group added that a committee was put in place to liaise with the INEC chairman and some Resident Electoral Commissioners in the states to favour the North in the creation of additional polling units.
Okurounmu, who read the prepared speech by the President’s supporters, said that NEF distributed 150 units of laptop computers to INEC for each of the northern states.
He said the laptops were used by the commission’s ad hoc staff in collaboration with northern youth activists during the Continuous Voter Registration.
Okurounmu said Jega allegedly directed the release of “Permanent Voter Cards in their catchment states to emirs, district heads and top politicians and not necessarily to the voters themselves.”
He said this was responsible for the near 100 per cent collection of PVCs in the northern part of the country.
He said, “This is the reason why Lagos State with a sophisticated voter population of over 5.2million has not distributed more than 2.5million PVCs; even the war ravaged states in the North-East have collected more PVCs than most southern states.
“Is this kind of selective treatment borne out of sheer nepotism and primordial bias deserving of a supposed impartial electoral umpire?”
He added that investigations by his group had revealed that funds were being made available for the northern operation of INEC by governors of the All Progressives Congress in the region, saying each of the governors contributed N100m and that “few Hausa-Fulani irredentist PDP governors also contributed N167m to perfect this invidious electoral fraud.”
Okurounmu said that Jega must tell Nigerians where the the decision to award the contract for the procurement of PVCs was taken and when the contract was awarded.
He said, “Jega should and must resign his appointment immediately as the chairman of INEC because he has lost the requisite moral rectitude to organise a credible election devoid of shenanigans of the northern elders forum and their cohorts.
“There should be immediate postponement of the February 14, 2015 presidential elections to allow for the reconstruction, repositioning and reprocessing of INEC to discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election.
“We call for the immediate arrest of Jega for criminals masterminding the procurement of PVCs for under-aged pupils in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.”
He said the group would “employ and mobilise with all ounce of energy at our disposal to ensure that there is no election in any part of southern Nigeria” if the Federal Government failed to take decisive action on the demands.
Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the commission, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said he had no comment to make on the issues.
But a source at the commission dismissed all the allegations, saying that the integrity of Jega remained intact.