No plan to sack Jega, Jonathan assures

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President Goodluck Jona­than has once again refuted al­legations that he plans to remove the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega.

The rumour of such a plot took the centre stage at the House of Representatives on Tuesday where a resolution rejecting it was passed by the members.

Also on Tuesday, the Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, opposed any plan to remove the INEC chair­man as well as a rumoured plot to impose a Interim National Gov­ernment of the country.

Speaking with Aljazeera Tele­vision on Monday, President Jon­athan said there was no truth to the speculations. He had made a similar declaration during his re­cent Presidential Media Chat.

Dr Jonathan noted that INEC is a sensitive and important institu­tion and that removing its chair­man arbitrarily would spark pub­lic outcry.

“Except somebody is insinuat­ing that the Chairman has done something wrong. You cannot change an officer, except the per­son has done something wrong,” the president said in response to a question on the INEC boss.

He continued: “Government, whether at the federal or state lev­el, president or governor, does not wake up and change somebody, especially somebody like the INEC Chairman, except that per­son has done something wrong.

“INEC is a very sensitive body. For me to change INEC Chair­man Nigerians will ask ques­tions. So, you cannot wake up and change INEC Chairman.”

He added that he had never dis­cussed with “any human being on earth about changing INEC Chairman”.

The House of Representatives opposed any attempt to relieve Jega of his post and any plan to further postpone the general elec­tions from March 28, 2015.

The members unanimously passed the resolution, follow­ing the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance moved by Hon. Ali Ahmad (APC/ Kwara).

Attempts by the Deputy Major­ity Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP/ Delta) to prevent the House from considering the motion, by rais­ing Order 62 failed as Speaker Tambuwal ruled him out of order. Hon. Ogor had observed that the motion by Hon. Ahmad was spec­ulative and contained no facts to support his claims that Prof. Jega would be removed from office or that the Federal Government was considering shifting the general elections to a new date.

In passing its resolution, the House advised the government, the political class and security agencies to heed the warning of imminent and present danger in the event the elections are shifted further. Furthermore, the House resolved to hold account­able anyone or individual that foists on INEC any decision or action whatsoever that will make it impracticable to conduct the elections on March 28, and April 11 respectively, including the un­constitutional attempt to remove Prof. Jega from office.

Moving his motion, Hon. Ah­mad said the postponement of the general elections by six weeks because of the Boko Haram in­surgency in the North East, has heightened the likelihood for pre-election violence in the country.

He expressed alarm over the possibility to further alter the time-table for the elections as well as the planned illegal sack of the INEC chairman by certain forces.

“There is already documented evidence from several sources that any change in status quo ar­rangements, especially removal of the INEC chairman, presents a possibility of violence and would occasion the sowing of seeds of a major crisis”, the lawmaker said.

He added that he was appre­hensive that such deliberately induced violence might snowball into post-election violence, wide­spread and systematic attacks, arson, murder and persecution as happened in the aftermath of the 2011 general elections.

Hon. Ahmad averred that the planned sack of Jega will be unconstitutional pursuant to Se3ction 157 (1) of the 1999 Con­stitution, which stipulates two conditions under which the INEC boss can be removed from office.

Also on Tuesday, the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, branded those allegedly mooting the con­stitution of an Interim National Government (ING) as enemies of Nigeria.

The speaker who, on Tues­day, received a delegation from the Nigeria Civil Society Situa­tion Room (NCS-SR), in Abuja, expressed fears that dark days could return to Nigeria following the ominous signs beclouding the nation’s political landscape.

He declared: “There is no inter im government in the constitu­tion. Those talking about interim government; are they planning a coup? It is outside the constitu­tion and I don’t know why our security agencies are condoning it. It is a treasonable offence. We should respect the wishes of the people and the will of God.”

The Speaker continued: “It is very clear that certain individu­als are not interested in a free and fair electoral process,” just as he appealed to politicians and Nigerians to respect the outcome of the coming polls as being the wishes of the electorate.

His words: “We should always remember that power belongs to God and He gives it as He wills. We should appreciate that not up to 10 per cent of us (Nigeri­ans) are politicians. What then happens to the remaining 90 per cent? If you do what pleases you and at the end of the day crises break out, what happens?”

The speaker further advised politicians to look at the ordinary people of the country, querying: “Are we as a nation where we ought to be? Are we doing the right thing?”

Tambuwal also had a word of caution for some electronic me­dia outfits which he accused of sponsoring advertisements that attack opposition political par­ties, wondering whether leaders of such media organisations ever think about the future.

Also, the speaker described as unconstitutional and counter-productive the reported plan to sack the Chairman of the Inde­pendent National Electoral Com­mission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, adding that the persons in­volved were playing a script that Nigerians are familiar with.

“When the Emir of Kano, Mu­hammad Sanusi II, was removed as governor of the Central Bank, I had cause to condemn the act. Those contemplating Jega’s re­moval from office are acting along the same line,” he said.

Tambuwal continued: “Jega is not a civil servant. We should be careful. We shouldn’t send the wrong signals to the people of Ni­geria”.

Earlier, leader of the NCS-SR team, Clement Nwankwo, ex­pressed worry about the current economic situation in the coun­try, as well as the fate of the con­stitution and the preparations for the coming general elections.

 

“We are making the point that the dates of the elections are so close to the handover dates, so it will be intolerable to postpone the elections again”, Nwankwo said.

He also criticised the idea of foisting an interim government on the nation and the suggestions that Jega should proceed on pre-retirement leave.

The team leader cited Sections 156, 157 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which, according to him, do not provide for such option and asked the National Assembly to ensure that the membership of INEC remains sacrosanct.

Meanwhile, the House Com­mittee on Aviation has com­menced an investigation of how the ministry of Aviation spent its 2014 budget.

Chairman, the committee, Hon. Nkiruka Chidubem Onye­jeocha disclosed this on Tuesday during an interactive session with officials of the ministry in Abuja.

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