A pro-democracy group, Nigerian Voters Assembly, has said by succumbing to the pressure from the military and security agencies to postpone the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has lost its independence.
The Commission had on Saturday announced the postponement of the general elections earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28 by six weeks. The elections will now hold on March 14 and April 11.
The group bemoaned the fake and untenable reasons of “weak distribution of PVCs to the electorate and insecurity in the North East”, being adduced President Goodluck Jonathan for the postponement and which INEC unfortunately succumbed to, saying there is no other verifiable and more cogent reasons for shifting the elections .
“By implication, for INEC to go back on its words and assurances to the Nigeria people, the leadership has lost the chances of living in the consciences of the people longer as a truly independent institution confirming that its assurances are not watertight. Indeed its farewell to its independence,” it said in a statement by its president, Mashood Erubami.
“INEC should have remained steadfast and abided by its own rules and regulations and refuse to cave in to massive pressure from any quarter including the government and its praise singers because Nigerians are very much desirous of a new order that will be built from the rubbles of the decadent and unimpressive administration currently in place,
“It would have therefore been in the best interest of the INEC as a trusted election Management body to fight on the side of the people however painful the decision not to heed the evil calls for the shift of the poll , than taking instructions from enemies of the people and loose all its goodwill.”
Lamenting that the shift in the date of the election came despite the decision of the Council of State, the group said the development “has put a bile in the dish of party candidates and Nigerians who have hoped to use the February dates of the general election to participate in the process of their liberation directly or indirectly.”
It said it was an abridgement of the sovereignty of Nigerians who by the shift in the date of the polls have been denied their sovereign rights to give power and authority to government in any given circumstance as contained in the constitution of Nigeria as amended.
The group stated that though postponing any election was not strange or unusual, it should not be a decision of government and INEC alone but that of every relevant organisation in the electoral process.
It said it was wrong for the commission to hand the people a faith accompli, especially those that would be seriously affected by the decision to shift the polls.
The group said, “Many of the Candidates and political parties are right now on the field trying to conclude their campaigns and getting ready to participate in the elections on the appointed dates, how do they now conclude and get more money to finance the forced space of time created, when indeed those who are clamouring for the shift have access to slush funding from government”?.
“It is unfortunate that INEC will finally give in to this error of omission and commission in a way that bade farewell to its independence in the rational view of discernible Nigerians” having advertently succumbed to the bidding and antics of very few political infidels who have never hidden their aversion for the integrity rating of the INEC current leadership especially Prof. Attahiru Jega.”
It said though Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act allows for the shift of elections if there is a reason to believe that a serious breach is likely to occur, the group said “under the present circumstances there is no reason that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur because the war in the North East has been there even before the INEC fixed date of the election.
“In fact up till today that the INEC caved in to the government massive pressures, it did not occur to it that the election should be postponed as it kept on re-assuring Nigerians that it was ready to conduct the elections on the appointed dates,” it said.