Defy the military and conduct elections, Group tells INEC

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

Sixty civil society groups organized in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria called in Abuja, Saturday, for the resignation of military chiefs and security heads including the Police “on account of their inability to exercise their constitutional responsibility to secure lives and property at all times including during the elections.”

The group, otherwise named the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), came short of characterizing the actions of the military and security chiefs as a coup against democracy in a strong statement signed by Agianpe Ashang, Senior Programme OfficerPolicy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, shortly after meeting with the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega in his Abuja office, Saturday.

Nigerians should be vigilant and be ready to protect this hard won democracy, said the group after Mr. Jega told them that he had received a letter from the security services advising that he postpones the general elections. He said  they based their reasoning on the grounds that they were engaged in a renewed battle against insurgency in the North-East that would require their full concentration.

The reasoning of the military and security leaders is bound to come as shock to many Nigerians who appear to be very enthusiastic about the elections.

According to a political survey recently conducted by the NOI polls, analysis by geo-political zones revealed that the North-West (89%) and South-East (87%) regions accounted for the largest proportions of Nigerians who expressed optimism for voting in the 2015 general elections when compared to other regions, although a majority of residents in all the geo-political zones expressed optimism in voting in the 2015 general elections, with a minimum 76% (North Central). Also, respondents aged 46-60 and 18-21 years showed more optimism for voting in the 2015 elections than other age-groups.

In the letter, Mr. Jega said, the military was demanding a rescheduling of elections by at least six weeks in the first instance. He was was accompanied by 12 of his National Commissioners.

Members of the Situation room told Mr. Jega and his team that the action of the security chiefs “amounted to blackmail and arm-twist the Election Management Body away from its constitutional guaranteed function of conducting elections.

Situation Room also condemns this advisory by security agents that they cannot guarantee the security of citizens, election officials and materials during the election.

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA).

Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than Sixty.

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