On behalf of over 35 civil society organisations, The Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) hereby strongly condemns the ongoing threats against the next Months general election. We have consistently advocated fora holistic electoral reforms and the appointments of only persons of good character as members of the national electoral management board otherwise known as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but rather than ameliorate the disturbing threats against the conduct of a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election, what we have witnessed over the past three years show that the current administration is bent on scuttling constitutional democracy and foisting itself on Nigerians against all statutes. The failure and refusal of the President to sign the amended electoral Act which would have prevented large scale electoral heist is calculated to foist a fait accompli on Nigerians and to enable the Presidency to manipulate the process. The Inspector General of police Mr Ibrahim Idris Kpodum who ought to retire on reaching the statutory retirement age of 60 on January 15th must proceed on pre retirement leave immediately. We suspect that he has been positioned to use his armed operatives to manipulate the conduct of the February election in favour of his appointing authority who is bent on staying on in power even if the majority of the voters reject him during the election. On the issue of the continuous retention of Mrs Amina Zakari by INEC inspite of the monumental groundswell of accusations that she is not independent and impartial going by her biological affinity with one of the major Presidential contenders Muhammadu Buhari we again reiterate our call for her dismissal or for her to excuse herself from any role in this coming election because of conflict of interest. Her failure to so do after we gave her 48 hours notice means that we will proceed to petition the National Assembly and all the international organisations that partner with INEC including the UN and major World leaders.
We will serve a petition to the President of the Senate because of the ongoing troubling threats to the integrity and credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which surely have the potency of undermining the 2019 general elections
As we are aware the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria (as amended), legitimately empowers the Senate, the powers to confirm the nominees of the Executive President to INEC in section 154 (1) and to remove in section 157 (1). Relatedly, take note that Section 14 (2a) and (3b) of Third Schedule Part 1 strong emphasized that: “a member of the commission shall – be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.
Our decision to petition the National Assembly as a coalition of credible civil society groups that are intrinsically committed to good governance, democracy, rule of law and free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria, is to strongly urge the Senate and the National Assembly to investigate the obvious conflict of interest in INEC concerning one of its commissioners, Amina Zakari.
Amina Zakari has obviously become a stumbling block in INEC since July 2015, when her appointment as the acting chairman of INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari met stiff resistance and condemnation across the country over conflict of interest arising from her family affinity with the President.
When INEC chairman announced her redeployment from being the head of electoral operations and logistics to head Health and Welfare committee on 11th October, 2018, was inevitably welcomed as a direct response to several complaints against her, just as commendations poured in for the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, as many political parties, political actors and observers also saw it as a panacea.
The partisanship of Amina Zakari in support of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is so obvious and her recent interview in which she said Buhari is her leader shows that her loyalty isn’t to Nigeria but to President Muhammadu Buhari her Uncle who desperately seeks a second term. She has been repeatedly accused of influencing the outcome of several elections in favour of the APC, using her strategic position as the Director of Operations.
The announcement of Amina Zakari as the head of election collation centre INEC, for the 2019 elections is an act of sabotage which and is capable of undermining the credibility of the February election.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; Human rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).