Why we can’t proceed with elections – Jega

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, has concluded a briefing meeting with 25 civil society groups in Abuja Saturday informing them that all security agencies in the country have indicated to him, in writing, that they are not available to support the elections planned for February 14 and 28.

Mr. Jega, who had an earlier meeting with political parties, is rounding up another meeting with his 36 resident electoral commissioners now on what will amount to an INEC position on whether to postpone or go ahead with the elections.

Insiders at the meeting said “its pretty much a done deal at this point that the elections will be postponed” and many of the attendees told PREMIUM TIMES they were shell-shocked and depressed at what they characterize as “a clear case of political blackmail of the state against civil society”.

Jibrin Ibrahim, a leading African election expert and senior fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in Abuja, who was at the meeting, said Mr. Jega told the meeting that security operatives from all the agencies told INEC that they were commencing a six weeks special operations against Boko Haram insurgents in the north eastern corridors of the country and would rather not be distracted by the elections.

Mr. Jega announced that the security forces also said the operations are due to commence on February 14, the date INEC had planned for the presidential and federal legislative elections.

This decision, by the security forces, successfully renders INEC’s hitherto insistence to go ahead with the elections a risky venture.

To even collect ballot papers from their storage in the Central Bank of Nigeria for the elections will require security escort, which apparently is now unavailable in the light of the move by the security forces.

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