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Insider reveals how Jega was manipulated to postpone the elections

Top: President Jonathan; NSA, Dasuki; and Defence Chief, Badeh. Bottom: PDP Chair, Mua’zu; Air Chief, Amosu;
and Clark.

Punch newspaper is exclusively reporting that the pressure mounted by President Goodluck
Jonathan’s loyalists and service chiefs on the Independent National
Electoral Commission led to the postponement of the 2015 general
elections.

The polls were billed for February 14 (presidential and National Assembly) and February 28 (governorship and House of Assembly).
Jonathan, candidate of the Peoples
Democratic Party, is contesting against retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of
the All Progressive Congress and 12 other candidates at the
presidential poll.
Those who pushed for the postponement,
despite the opposition from the All Progressives Congress and many
Nigerians, include the Presidency; the Peoples Democratic Party
Jonathan’s loyalists; the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo
Dasuki; the Chiefs of Defence, Army, Naval and Air Staff, among others.
Two weeks ago, Dasuki, while speaking at
a forum at the Chatham House in London, asked INEC to postpone the
elections, saying the shift would allow for proper preparations and
distribution of PVCs by the electoral body.
In an apparent reaction to Dasuki’s
call, the United States had on January 25, 2015, advised Nigeria against
postponing the elections.
The US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, gave the advice after he met with Jonathan and Buhari.
Kerry urged the Federal Government not to postpone the elections as canvassed by Dasuki.
Army Chief, Minimah
However, the military chiefs wrote to
Jega, informing him of the security implication of holding the elections
in February as earlier scheduled. This, it was learnt, what part of
what influenced shifting of the polls.
Before the INEC chairman announced the
new dates for the elections, the commission had insisted that the
presidential and National Assembly elections be held on February 14,
while the governorship and states House of Assembly election be held two
weeks later.
Jega, however, changed the dates of the
elections at a press conference he addressed at the commission’s
headquarters in Abuja on Saturday. He repeatedly held the NSA and
security chiefs responsible for the shift.
The press conference came up after he met with representatives of all registered political parties.
Jega was said to have on Saturday told
the leaders of the parties, his officers and the civil society groups
that the commission was ready for the election as planned, but that he
was worried because of the claim by the security agencies that they
would not be able to protect members of the staff of the commission and
the electorates.
Sixteen political parties led by the
ruling Peoples Democratic Party were said to have favoured the shifting
of the elections, while nine others led by the opposition All
Progressives Congress were against the move.
Jega also had a marathon meeting with
the Resident Electoral Commissioners of all the 36 states and the
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Naval Chief, Jibrin
At the meetings, Jega was said to have
told the attendees that he had received a letter from service chiefs
advising that he should postpone the general elections on the grounds
that the security agencies were engaged in a renewed battle against
insurgency in the North-East.
This, they claimed, would require their full concentration.
In the letter, it was gathered that the security agencies were demanding a rescheduling of elections by, at least, six weeks.
He also told the leaders of the
political parties and the Resident Electoral Commissioners that he
received a letter on Wednesday from the NSA, informing him that it would
be difficult for the security agencies to protect the electorates
during the election.
The Council of State had on Thursday rose from a seven-hour meeting, advising the INEC to conduct the elections.
Jega was quoted to have told the council
that the commission was ready for the conduct of the election but the
military chiefs were quoted to have said they could not guarantee the
security of electoral officers, materials and the electorate should the
commission go ahead with the earlier schedule.
Same Thursday, Jonathan’s supporters
under the aegis of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly led by Ijaw
leader and ex-Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, called for the
postponement of the polls.
The group, at a press conference,
pressed further by asking for the sacking Chairman, INEC, Prof. Attahiru
Jega, and his arrest for allegedly conniving with some northerners to
manipulate the presidential election against Jonathan.
Those in attendance included a former
Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme, ex-Minister of Information, Walter
Ofonagoro; ex-Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Peoples
Democratic Party’s National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Dr. Cairo
Ojugboh, and the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee of the
recently held national confab, Senator Femi Okurounmu, among others.
Okurounmu, who read a prepared speech
jointly signed by him, Clark and Ekwueme on behalf of the group, said
the alleged connivance with the Northern Elders Forum was responsible
for the near 100 per cent collection of Permanent Voter Cards in the
North.
The PDP has also repeatedly called for a shift of the polls in the past two weeks.
An INEC National Commissioner, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH
under anonymity after the Saturday meetings, said it was better for the
commission to shift the elections in order to protect the integrity of
their outcome and those that would take part in the conduct of the
elections.
He said, “You needed to be at the
meeting and see the mood of Jega. He was not happy because his integrity
was at stake and because these same service chiefs had earlier given
their words that they were ready.
“Now, if he didn’t listen to their
advice, these same security agencies could create scenes (problems) for
the elections. They could sabotage the distribution of sensitive
materials.
“Apart from that, they could also refuse
to provide security for those involved in the elections and could also
sabotage the movement of sensitive materials.”
The source said almost everyone in the country was aware that the PDP-led Federal Government was not ready for the elections.
“If the Federal Government that is
funding the security agencies and appointed their heads is not ready for
elections, how do you compel their heads who are all appointees of the
same government to say they are ready,” another INEC National
Commissioner asked.
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