ABUJA – Senate of the Federal Republic yesterday, summoned Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega to appear before them today, to explain the circumstances surrounding postponement of the General Elections earlier scheduled to begin Saturday last week.
The Commission is also to brief the Senate at plenary on the issues and various other issues related to her preparedness for the conduct of the 2015 elections and demonstrate the workings of the card reader and its deployment before the senators.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba who moved the motion noted that “apart from the security reports cited by the Commission for the postponement of the elections, critical issues the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and palpable apprehension that considerable number of eligible voters may be disenfranchised as well as, the proposed deployment of card readers by INEC for the conduct of the elections may amount to a contravention of Section 52 of the Electoral Act 2010”, adding, “if these issues are not resolved before hand the conduct of the elections may cause more complications”.
This is even as senators of the All Peoples Congress (APC) extraction kicked on the premise that Defence Chiefs ought to have been invited to defend their action that allegedly led to the postponement.
Minority Leader George Akume whose nodded the motion, wanted the nation’s security chiefs be invited along with Prof. Jega “to hear from them why they cannot provide security for an exercise that will last for only a day or two”.
“Let us remember that only 7,000 troops are required to handle the issue of Boko Haram and even then it took a regional contribution to get that 7,000; we have a military force that is over 100,000 and therefore, Mr. President we want to amend this by saying that Jega should come along with the Service Chiefs”, Sen. Akume urged the Senate.
Meanwhile, presiding Senate President David Mark has urged Nigerians to refrain from inflammatory statements, capable of worsening the already tensed political atmosphere in the country, noting, “these are not ordinary times in our nation”.
In his welcome address yesterday, Senate President Mark observed that “there is palpable tension in the land and the comments and even the body language of the political class further exacerbates the tension”.
He urged the legislators that “as statesmen and women, we must rise to the occasion and help reduce tension; we must refrain from acts or statements that will aggravate this already charged atmosphere across the country”.
Also, the SP was alarmed that the issue of Interim National Government (ING) has been given undeserved prominence in our national discourse, stressing, “this is imprecise, sordid and strange” and that, “Interim National Government is alien to the 1999 Constitution (as Amended)”.
“Therefore those calling for ING are pushing for an exercise in futility”, he continued, “this Senate is committed to the provisions of our Constitution which we swore to protect and we will not do anything to sabotage the democratic process”.
“I call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to continue to prepare to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible general election.
We owe it a duty to our country men and women to give INEC all the support it needs to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible election.
It is important to note that on the 29th of May, 2015 a democratic government elected through a free, fair, transparent and credible election will be sworn-in”, he added.
Later in a press briefing, Chairman of Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe explained that the red chamber could not invite the defence chiefs for briefing on the postponement as it would amount to pre-empting the issues involved.
“The Electoral Management Body in Nigeria is INEC, if during the briefing, Prof. Jega says it is security problem, we can invite the military chiefs for briefing; it is not proper to preempt the matter”, Sen. Abaribe stressed.

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