The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) is worried about statements made by politicians and supporters of candidates vying for election calling for the removal of Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in violation of S. 157 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guaranteeing the independence of INEC.
Situation Room advises against the attempt to remove Prof. Attahiru Jega or any of the National Commissioners ahead of the elections or their tenure and warns that such could pose grave threat to the 2015 general elections and survival of democracy in Nigeria.
Situation Room is reluctantly making this call because of the persistent personalized political attacks that have been made on the Chairman of INEC over the past four weeks. These attacks fall far outside the bounds of fair exchanges and we call on all political stakeholders to show appropriate respect for the role of INEC, its independence, and the channels for appropriate discourse. The Situation Room also notes that the postponement of the presidential and general elections had cast doubts on the independence of the INEC and advices that actions taken towards the election should be targeted at building citizens confidence on the independence of INEC.
Situation Room believes that the persistence of rumors of the Chairman’s removal is damaging to the polity and public confidence that the entire national leadership of INEC is free from threat. There are other National Commissioners appointed at the same time as the Chairman and stories implying that the Chairman should proceed on terminal leave lead to an inevitable conclusion that INEC’s leadership faces a threat at a time when no hint of interference should even be implied.
Situation Room calls on all political parties and stakeholders to respect the provisions of the Constitution that guarantee the sanctity and independence of INEC and avoid actions that could threaten as well as consequently endanger Nigeria’s democracy.
We welcome the President’s statement on Al Jazeera TV that he has no intention of removing the INEC Chairman and hope that he can extend this assurance to make it clear that no back door attempts to remove or undermine the leadership of INEC will be tolerated by his administration.
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), CWAE. Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than Sixty.