At a time when Nigerians were just heaving a sigh of relief that, at last, Professor Attahiru Jega, National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yielded to the voice of reason by suspending the controversial allocation of the additional 30,000 Polling Units, PUs, there are strong indications that there is yet no retreat no surrender on the part of those pushing an agenda to use INEC as an instrument of rigging next year’s general elections. This fresh discovery by Sunday Vanguard is going to the wrought through the instrumentality of the distribution and allocation of voting materials on the day of election (read logistics). That is not all. The main drivers of the Commission are also set to redeploy Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, of northern origin to the South to handle the 2015 elections because of the belief that some RECs in the South did not go along with the disguised rigging plot based on the lopsided allocation of the PUs. Already, Jega has sent out a threat to the RECs in the South.
Professor Attahiru Jega, National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has issued a query laden with an ultimatum to Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, in some southern states of Nigeria. This is not unconnected with the failed attempt by some individuals at the Commission, who misled its Chairman, to create additional 30,000 Polling Units, PUs, which were then shared in a most bizarre manner, giving the North over 21,000 and allocating a little over 8,000 to the entire South of Nigeria. A copy of the query, in the possession of Sunday Vanguard, is seething with rage. Issued on November 11, 2014 – the day the Commission bowed to national pressure on the lopsided allocation of the PUs – it was signed by Jega himself.
Dependable sources at the INEC Zambezi Street headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, disclosed that “shortly after Tuesday’s stormy meeting, the Turks who have remained adamant in their own vision and mission of how next year’s election should be determined, made the Chairman understand that he needed to demonstrate that he was in charge”. How the man believed to be cerebral, energetic and visionary as well as integrity-filled allowed himself to become a tool in this unfolding drama may be a mystery psychologists would have to conduct a research into.
The query was titled, ‘QUERY FOR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT REPORTS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECONFIGURATION OF POLLING UNIT STRUCTURE AND CREATION OF ADDITIONAL POLLING UNITS’.
It read: “The Commission, by letter dated 16th October 2014, directed all Resident Electoral Commissioners to submit your respective reports on the reconfiguration of Polling Units structure and creation of Polling Units on or before 30th October, 2014. “At the Commission Meeting today, 11th November 2014, it was observed that you have refused, failed or neglected to comply with the above directive within the deadline given or since then”. That was not all. The query then set an ultimatum as follows:
“The Commission has directed that you explain, in writing, the reasons for your conduct within 7 days from the date of this letter.
For those who may not have been following the reported hidden agenda in INEC, the “reports on the reconfiguration of Polling Units structure and creation of Polling Units”, which Jega referred to in his query are nothing more than the warped allocation that an INEC Commissioner in Abuja described to Sunday Vanguard as “meaningless and ungodly”. Indeed, the said memo was issued after an inconclusive meeting on how to proceed. The memo itself, sources further disclosed, did not set out any particular criteria on how to establish the PUs but, rather curiously, expected the RECs to fashion out the execution of an agenda they are not a part of. Interestingly, the RECs in the North carried out “their master’s wish”. However, because the agenda was meant to peddle false altruism hinged on a supposed need to get PUs closer to the electorate, daylight came upon Jega’s magic.
HOW INEC BROKE THE LAW
INEC is in breach of the law. Section 42 of the Electoral Act is the legal basis for the creation/allocation of units. The Section specifically refers to Registration Areas (RAs) as the basis for creating PUs. The creation of new PUs on state basis is faulty and contrary to the law. For the purpose of clarity, Section 42 states: – “The Commission shall establish sufficient number of Polling Units in each registration area and shall allot voters to such Polling Units”. Therefore, INEC has no legal basis for proposing to use criteria such as the unexplainable ratio of 85%,15% as well as additional 121 polling units to all states on the basis of equality of state because where the Constitution stipulated equality of state such as three senatorial districts, it was clearly written.
Not using the RAs as prescribed by law led to the now suspended inequitable and arbitrary allocation of PUs. There are 8,809 RAs in Nigeria, of which 4,611 (52%) are in the North and FCT, and 4,198 (48%) are in the South. If 30,027 PUs are to be created, using the appropriate legal requirement, RAs, it follows that 15,614 of these PUs i.e approximately 52%, should be allocated to the North and 14,413, i.e approximately 48%, should be in the 17 states of the South. This is the only legal, fair, just and equitable distribution that will be acceptable, using RAs as stipulated by law.
IN JEGA’S OWN WORDS
It would be recalled that shortly after his assumption of office, one of the early steps taken that started the process of restoration of public confidence in INEC, before the nationwide voters registration, was Jega’s declaration that it had commenced the process of verification and relocation of PUs nationwide to ensure that PUs in the homes, compounds, places like Okija Shrine, traditional rulers/emirs palaces, and places of worship were relocated to open and accessible public places. This was commended by Nigerians who know that truly PUs were located in the premises of powerful politicians and these were used to rig elections.
After the 2011 elections, the Chairman of INEC, in his keynote address on the role of editors during elections, at the 7th All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC, Benin 2011), on Thursday, September 22, 2011, further confirmed what his Commission had told Nigerians when he said: “Before embarking on the registration of voters, the Commission established the exact location of PUs throughout the country and verified the number to be 199, 976 – which is 24 short of the 120,000 that was on record”.
By Edos News