Group seeks U.S., E.U. pressure against shift of Nigeria polls

The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice at the weekend called on the international community, particularly the European Union, United States and Canada, to pressure the Nigerian government to ensure rescheduled elections are held as planned.

The civil society group said it was worried that after an inter-agency consultative Committee of Election Security meeting held on Monday February 23, 2015 with the National Security Adviser, on the preparedness of the military and para-military organisations for the general elections, INEC was still not sure of the level of security during the polls for its staff and election materials.

The consultative meeting was the first between the INEC and the security agencies since the elections, initially scheduled for February 14, 2015 were postponed by six weeks over security concerns.

The chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had said at the end of the meeting that the electoral body was still unable to guarantee security to provide the platform for a free, fair and credible general elections slated for March 28 and April 11.

“The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) is worried that this ugly trend is rearing its head again in spite of repeated assurances from President Goodluck Jonathan,” the group said in a statement by its Executive Director, David Ugolor. “We consider the nervous disposition of INEC as an ominous sign that portends ill for the March 28 and April 11 2015 Elections.”

He commended the recent visit of the President, along with Chief of Army Staff to some sections of the recaptured territories from Boko Haram, to boost the morale of the Nigerian troops.

Mr. Ugolor however urged the National Security Adviser to the President, Sambo Dasuki, and the security chiefs to do everything within their powers to assure INEC, Nigerians and indeed the free world of adequate security during the general elections.

“Anything less is unacceptable, especially as the constitution does not sanction any kind of shift of the general elections beyond the current dates of March 28, and April 11,” Mr. Ugolor said.

The EU, U.S., Canada and the international community, he said, must take a firm and resolute position concerning the elections in Nigeria, adding that the Nigerian authorities should be compelled to demonstrate patriotism and selflessness in forestalling any constitutional crisis in the country.

He said if the Federal Government does not support INEC with needed security for the general elections, it would be seen as an open invitation to anarchy.

The military authorities, the group said, must continue to fight terror in the North-East for INEC to conduct peaceful and successful elections, while President Jonathan, as the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, must provide all necessary assistance to the Inter-Agency Committee on Election Security to support INEC organize the elections.

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