Chief Edwin Clark and Chief Alex Ekwueme, along with other elders of the Southern Nigeria, have alleged, a conspiracy between the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and the Northern Elders Forum, to impose a Northern President on Nigerians.
Below is a press release, at the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) press conference:
Text Of Press Conference By Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) On The Unholy Conspiracy Between The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) And The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) With Intent To Install A Northern President Though Rigging.
Gentlemen of the Press,
On behalf of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) we have invited you to brief you on the subversive, subterranean and dishonorable conspiracy which we discovered to exist between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), with the sole desire of enthroning a President of Northern extraction at all cost in the February 14, 2015 presidential election.
We authoritatively gathered with unassailable and incontrovertible evidence that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who was away in Lagos for an official engagement, through one of his National Commissioners that represented him, met with select leaders of the Northern Elders Forum led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi on the 20th August, 2014 where strategies and modalities for enthroning a President of Northern extraction through vote rigging were discussed and agreed upon.
The meeting was sequel to an earlier meeting of the Northern Elders Forum held on the 16th August, 2015 at Arewa House, Kaduna under the chairmanship of Amb. Yusuf Maitama Sule where it was resolved that “all avenues must be explored towards enthroning a President of Northern extraction in the forthcoming 2015 elections” and “a committee … put in place to liaise with the INEC Chairman and some States Resident Electoral Commissioners in order to favor the North in the creation of additional polling units”.
Other prominent members in attendance include Professor Ango Abdullahi, Prof. Idris Mohammed, Alhaji Sani Zango Daura, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Alhaji Bashir Ibrahim Yusuf, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Kirfi, Amb. Shehu Malami and Dr. Tima Sani. Also in attendance were Alamin Dagash, Gen. Paul Tarfa, Gen. Saleh Maina, Alh. Bashir Tofa, Barr. Solomon Dalung, Barr. M. B. Wali, Barr. Rhoda Ako and Mohammed Sharif who served as Secretary.Since then we have noticed that Engr. Nuru Yakubu, a crony and ally of Prof. Jega in INEC has become the devious hatchet man.
Another meeting of Finance Committee of the Northern Elders Forum also took place on the 21st January, 2015 where further details of the detestable plans to impugn the integrity of the 2015 general elections were taken.
It will interest you, gentlemen of the press, to know that we have copies of minutes of these meetings. These meetings and plans were hatched in furtherance to the Northern Elders Forum’s obsession that there will be no Nigeria, if a Northerner does not emerge President of Nigeria in the 2015 general elections.
As part of the grand design, Prof. Jega agreed in the meeting to create astronomical number of additional polling units in the North, over and above what is desirable to ensure the election of a Northern Presidential candidate, that would emerge from the party primaries, in the general election. We now know that this was responsible for Prof. Jega’s whimsical creation of additional 30,000 polling units with intent to give unearned massive votes to the northern presidential candidate. These additional polling units were agreed to exist only on “sheet of papers” which would be used as votes mill to rig the election. This means therefore that the acclaimed suspension of the implementation of the additional 30,000 polling units by Prof. Jega is a grand deceit as same is reported to have continued in parts of the North under cover.
It is surprising that Prof. Jega, in consonance with the agreement with the leaders of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had two sets of rules for the conduct of the continuous voters registration exercise. Whereas requirements for the registration of voters in the core north was agreed to be “loose “in order to encourage under-aged registration, the same was “stringently” enforced in the whole of Southern Nigeria so as to reduce the number of eligible voters where they believe President Jonathan has the strongest support base.
In furtherance of Professor Jega’s nepotistic bias and ethnocentrism, he reportedly advised the Northern Elders Forum leaders to compromise the State Resident Electoral Commissioners to assist him in perfecting the vote rigging to install a President of northern extraction. Whereas RECs who are willing to play ball are to be deliberately posted to core northern states, others who were considered recalcitrant were to be put under the surveillance of the National Commissioner in charge of Operations to achieve their desired results.
A close observation of some of the activities of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) show glaring collaboration between Prof. Jega’s INEC and the former. For instance, despite Prof. Jega’s public admission that the Commission has all the funds it requires to conduct the 2015 elections, we are aware that the Northern Elders Forum obtained and distributed 150 pieces of laptop computers to INEC for each of the Northern States. The laptop computers were used by INEC’s adhoc staff in collaboration with Northern Youth activists for the indiscriminate registration of voters during the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise. This strategy, which abetted and made possible massive registration of voters without restriction on the age, was part of the earlier agreement between INEC and the Northern Elders Forum, without prejudice to the fact that age is a prerequisite qualification for every eligible voter. The following curious questions beg for answers:
1) Is the Northern Elders Forum a government institution/agency or an NGO promoting good electoral conduct and governance that it would donate 150 laptop computers to INEC for each northern state? If yes, why was the donation not made public?
2) Is it for want of funds that INEC accepted the donation and distribution of 150 laptop computers to only each of the northern states?
3) Giving the known age-long uncompromising hatred against President Jonathan and stance that a northerner must become President at all cost by Northern Elders Forum, could the acceptance of these “Greek gifts” place Prof. Jega’s INEC on a pedestal of impartiality to supervise the 2015 elections?
4) Could this be the reason why Prof. Jega arbitrarily allocated 21,850 additional polling units (which gave a voting population of about 15 million extra votes) to the north and 8,150 additional polling units, which approximates 5 million extra votes to the entire south?
5) What was the experience and skill of the northern activist youths who were recruited for the registration exercise when specialized training always preceded field operations carried out by adhoc staff in all electoral processes?
In addition to the above and in clear contravention of procedure, Prof. Jega reportedly directed the release of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in their catchment states to Emirs, District Heads and top politicians and not necessarily to the voters themselves, a situation that culminated in some voters being in possession of 2 to 3 PVCs. This accounted for the nearly 100 percent PVC collection rate in especially the North West States as compared with the less than 50 percent collection rate in the Southern States.
This is the reason why Lagos state with a sophiscated voter population of over 5.2 million has not distributed more than 2.5 million PVCs; even the war ravaged states n the North East have collected more PVCs than most Southern states. Is this kind of selective treatment borne out of sheer nepotism and primordial bias deserving of a supposed impartial electoral umpire? Also as part of the nocturnal agenda, the Northern Elders Forum, the unrepentant group of ethno-bigots which only living penchant is that President Goodluck Jonathan must vacate the presidency for a northerner, has been given the sole responsibility to recruit all electoral officers, returning officers and polling clerks, in collaboration with their activist youths, for Prof. Jega’s absorption into INEC.
Contrary to Professor Jega’s public posturing and pronouncements, we have uncovered that in line with his firm promise to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), he is determined to announce General Buhari as the winner of the 2015 Presidential election irrespective of its outcome. And in preparation for the ensuing electoral tsunami that would engulf the country, the Northern Elders Forum has already retained the services of 34 Legal luminaries including 14 Seniors Advocates of Nigeria who shall be on standby for the Tribunal cases.
The Legal luminaries have already started their assignment by filing an action in court, challenging the eligibility of President Jonathan to contest the 2015 presidential election, an action that have been challenged and decided several times by the same Federal High Court. To make the judgment a fait accompli, a Committee of the National Elders Forum at Prof. Jega’s prompting, because of his desire to hide under the cloak of legal and judicial protection, is courting senior judges of Northern extraction to obtain judgment against President Jonathan and the PDP during and after the proclamation of Gen. Buhari as the winner.
Our investigations revealed that the funds for the entire Northern Elders Forum guided operations in INEC is being provided by APC governors in the north, who each contributed N100 million and few Hausa-Fulani irredentist PDP governors who also contributed N167million to perfect these invidious electoral fraud.
The impervious desire to orchestrate these agreements driven by eccentric parochialism has unfortunately guided Prof. Attahiru Jega’s internal actions in positioning INEC for the inexorable task of supervising the 2015 general elections. The recent deployment of National Commissioners essentially elected the philosophy of loyalty to Prof. Jega’s northern agenda and hence all critical and key electoral departments that will eventually decide the outcome of the 2015 general elections were given to those who have aligned with him.
We have also become aware that the recent redeployment of Resident Electoral Commissioners, contrary to public expectation, was based on the plan to secure and protect expected positive results in supposed catchment states while those sent to the South were given specific directive to comply with extant rules and regulations or be sacked. Prof. Jega’s disdainful verve to prosecute his hallowed task of rigging President Jonathan out of office at all cost is further noted from the movement of top Directors of Southern Nigeria origin. These officers who were hitherto occupying sensitive positions in INEC are now moved to obscure and redundant office such as the INEC Electoral Institute, which make them completely irrelevant with electoral processes.
There has been more forced voluntary retirement for senior staff of Southern origin even when they have up to three or more years in the service under Prof. Jega’s chairmanship. And to take over such sensitive positions of high electoral value, Prof. Jega in defiance of extant rules on federal character moved Directorate Cadre Staff from some Northern State Offices to Headquarters as replacement with a view to ensuring strict realization of the project.
It will further interest you to equally note that Prof. Jega’s posturing that card readers are to be used for authentication and verification of voters is already being circumvented by Prof. Jega’s INEC. INEC has suddenly realized for the first time that over 2million Nigerians mostly from the North are amputees. It has accordingly decided to introduce a “special verification” process different from the card reader for this class of Nigerians. But the real fact is that the entire process is being initiated as part of Prof. Jega’s hidden agenda to amass a whopping 2million votes for his preferred Northern candidate. This as well as the recently introduced IDPs voting are part of strategies of Prof. Jega’s vote mill to rig the election.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it’s both inexplicable and confounds commonsense that Prof. Jega has decided to conduct the 2015 general elections in February in the light of very glaring organizational, technical and operational deficiencies whereas in 2003, 2007 and 2011the same elections were conducted in April. We may wish to recall that even with the time leverage in 2011, Prof. Jega was compelled to postpone the conduct of elections to the National Assembly from April 2 to April 9 due to inadequate preparations. Such postponements did not in any affect the sacrosanctity of the 29th May swearing in date. Such postponements never deprecated the sanctity of our elections in the past and would not in any way compromise the integrity of the 2015 elections if postponed to sometime in April, 2015 insofar as it provides for the mandatory 30 days in consonance with the provisions of extant rules and regulations in our statutes.
What could therefore be responsible for Prof. Jega’s petulant haste to hold the elections in February 2015 even in the face of the following critically fundamental operational, technical and organizational challenges that could mar the integrity of the elections other than to deliver on the timetable he has promised the Northern Elders Forum:
Whereas Prof. Jega has premised the integrity of 2015 elections on the use of card readers, the caravans needed for storing them are yet to be delivered barely one week to the presidential election, a situation that has led those responsible to suspend the delivery of additional card readers. This means there may not be enough card readers to service all the 121,000 polling units all over the country.
There are reported polling units specific configuration problems for the card readers that have delivered which need yet-to-be-provided urgent resolution, particularly against the backdrop that some of the card readers have factory faults, thus requiring full scale audit to determine whether the available card readers can guarantee the integrity of the elections.
The late conclusion of party primaries and INEC’s deadline for substitution of candidates has grossly delayed the production of customized ballot papers and result sheets. This is an avoidable recipe for multiple post-election crises and litigation. We therefore doubt INEC’s competence and capability to conduct an impartial election.
Given the fact that a high preponderance of the 960,000 adhoc staff for the conduct of the election are yet to be properly trained on the use of the new technology barely 8 days to the election, how can Prof. Jega convince Nigerians and the international community that he is prepared to conduct a free, fair and credible elections?
Gentlemen of the Press, we have presented these facts to show that Prof. Jega is an ethnic and religious jingoist, an unrepentant Hausa-Fulani irredentist and a highly tribalised public administrator. We are not convinced that an INEC superintend by Prof. Attahiru Jega would have any iota of impartiality to conduct a free and fair elections in this country any more. Prof. Jega’s open romance, either directly or indirectly with elements of the opposition, has compromised his integrity, credibility and moral standing to conduct an impartial, free and fair 2015 presidential elections.
He has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who is not only deeply repugnantly clannish but also brazenly corrupt and fraudulent. Because Prof. Jega was gravely intent on perfecting the strategies to rig the elections in favor of the Northern candidate, he circumvented fundamental and critical requirements in the Public Procurement Act. We would therefore want Prof. Jega to tell the entire world:
At what meeting in INEC was the decision to award the contract for the procurement of the Permanent Voters Cards taken?
At what time and where were the contract documents forwarded to the Bureau of Public Procurement for consideration and approval?
And indeed where the PVCs being processed and printed? Are the PVCs being printed abroad with a reputable firm or they are being printed somewhere in Nigeria within the enclave of Maitama in Abuja?
What is the cost of the contract for the procurement of PVCs?
As a responsible government agency, it is only germane that Nigerians, whose tax monies are used to fund its operations, are properly informed on these critical aspects of INEC’s activities.
We make bold to say that Prof. Jega has betrayed public trust, respect and acceptance, sublime attributes that are necessary for an impartial electoral umpire.
Consequent upon the foregoing, the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNPA) wish to make the following unequivocal demands, which if not complied forth with, would compel us to consider every necessary step to force compliance.
Professor Jega, should and must resign his appointment immediately as the Chairman of INEC because he has lost the requisite moral rectitude to organize a credible election devoid of the shenanigans of the Northern Elders Forum and their cohorts.
There should be immediate postponement of the February 14, 2015 presidential elections to allow for the reconstitution, repositioning and reprocessing of INEC to discharge its responsibility of conducting an impartial election.
We call for the immediate arrest of Prof. Attahiru Jega for criminally masterminding the procurement of PVCs for under-aged pupils in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010
Where the Federal Government fail to take decisive action on these demands we shall employ and mobilize with all ounce of energy at our disposal to ensure that there is no election in any part of Southern Nigeria.
We wish to remind Mr. President that the Federal Government has the sacrosanct duty to maintain peace and order, and to protect the lives and property of the citizens of this country. Therefore government must not allow itself to be intimidated by any group of persons to conduct the elections under these uncertain circumstances that could culminate in the breakdown of law and order in the country. The consequences may be too grave for Nigeria to bear.
Chief Edwin K. Clark, CON H. E. Dr. Alex Ekwueme, GCON
South South Leader Coordinating Chairman/South East Leader
ArchBishop Ayo Ladigbolu
South West Leader