Fear of new polls shift rises


INEC

APC seeks sanction for PDP leaders

NGOs rise for Jegaa

There are fears that the March 28 and April 11 elections may be shifted.

The elections were originally slated for February 14 and 28. They were shifted because the Service Chiefs told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that they could not guarantee security. They asked for six weeks to defeat the Boko Haram insurgents troubling the Northeast.

“The same reason is likely to be advanced in making a case for another postponement,” a source said last night.

The Service Chiefs, The Nation learnt, will tender the military’s recent gains in the war against Boko Haram to make the case for another postponement.

The military says it has made much progress in the anti-terrorism war, retaking towns captured by the terrorists and making arrests.

But, the popular thinking, particularly  in the camp of the opposition, is that another shift will allow the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to perfect its strategies to stay put in office by manipulating the elections.

The strategies include:

•the sudden push for the removal of INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega and;

•the campaign against the use of the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and the Card Reader – two key elements of a fraud–free election, according to INEC.

The PDP insists that many would-be voters are yet to get their cards. Besides, the party says the Card Reader may go faulty.

Almost 80% of would-be voters have got their cards. INEC says there are spare card readers, should some suddenly go faulty.

Some civil society organisations have stepped up their campaign that the elections should hold as scheduled.

The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said there were fears that another postponement was in the smithy.

Nigerians United for Democracy (NUD) held a rally in Lagos on Saturday to insist on the sanctity of the election dates and the guarantee of INEC’s independence and the security of its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega’s tenure.

The group also expressed their rejection of military rule or any Interim Government in whatever form.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and a group of civil society Organisations under the aegis of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) urged the Federal Government and other stakeholders to ensure that the elections hold as rescheduled.

They frowned at moves by some individuals to discredit the leadership of the National Electoral Commission (INEC) and urged the government to ensure the protection of the commission’s “independence, impartiality and credibility.”

They said the measures were required in “protecting and defending the credibility of the electoral system.”

This was part of conclusions by both bodies after a meeting to examine the “Pre-Election Report and Advisory on Violence in Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections,” issued by the NHRC as a measure to forestall election-related violence, protect human rights and bring accountability to bear for violations of human rights during the general elections.

NHRC and the CSOs stressed the need for the “protection of the independence, impartiality and credibility of the INEC as the body constitutionally entrusted with responsibility for   organising elections in Nigeria.”

They expressed their commitment to ensuring the prevention and mitigation of violence, including the need to ensure   the existence of a credible capability to address election-related violence and hate speech.

In a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu and Head, the Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, both bodies have agreed to establish a joint Technical Working Group to work together in developing clear Rules of Engagement together with protocols for monitoring compliance by security agencies (including the police, military, internal security or para-military units) that may be deployed for election duties in 2015 General elections. The Working Group shall report not later than the 10 March 2015.

“The Situation Room and the NHRC called for politicians from across the political divide to close ranks in protecting and defending the credibility of the electoral system.”

The APC said the PDP was scheming to shift the elections because it planned to perfect a rigging plan. It called for sanctions against the party’s leaders, should the elections be moved.

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