INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega Tells Senators He Can’t Guarantee Presidential Elections Will Hold March 28

February 18, 2015 6:34 pm
Unfortunately for Nigerians, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, has told Nigerian federal lawmakers he
could not guarantee the will hold on rescheduled
dates in March and April. 

                             Prof. Attahiru Jega 

At a meeting with Senators Wednesday, Mr. Jega said he could not
commit himself to the “sanctity” of March 28 and April 11 – dates for
the rescheduled ’s general elections.

He said the electoral commission could not guarantee aspects of the poll that are beyond its control.

Mr. Jega met with the lawmakers to review the decision to postpone the polls from February.

Under the Nigerian law, a further six-week extension of the elections
is possible, a prospect opposed by many Nigerians, the main opposition
All Progressives Congress, APC, and the international community.

INEC had said the postponement were necessary for security reasons,
as military chiefs had warned against going on with the vote to allow it
focus on fighting the terror group, Boko Haram.
But the APC said the
delay was instigated by President Goodluck Jonathan, to save him and
ruling party from losing the elections to the APC candidate, Muhammadu

Since announcing the new dates nearly two weeks ago, the commission
has declined to clearly confirm that there will be no further delay
beyond March 28 and April 11, for presidential, National Assembly,
governorship and state assembly polls.

Responding to a question by George Akume, Senate Minority Leader, on
the sanctity of the new dates, on Wednesday, Mr. Jega said it was
difficult for him to respond, saying he could only give assurances over
aspects within the control of INEC.

“That’s a very difficult question to answer. I have said not
everything that has to do with the conduct of successful election is
within the control of INEC,” Mr. Jega said.
Use of card readers

Mr. Jega also said the commission will go forward with its plan to deploy card readers for the elections.

There have been some concerns, mainly from the ruling Peoples
Democratic Party, PDP, about the plan as Nigerian law prohibits
electronic voting.

On Wednesday, while PDP Senators opposed the plan, their APC counterparts welcomed it.

Heineken Lokpobri, a PDP Senator from Bayelsa State and Odion Ugbesa,
from Edo State, argued against the use of card readers for the
elections, saying it would be illegal.

In his response, Mr. Jega said card readers would only be used for accreditation not actual voting.

He said there was no law forbidding the use of electronic devices for accreditation.

“Card reader is used for accreditation not voting. Voting his defined
as dropping of ballot paper into ballot box. Accreditation is essential
for integrity of the election,” he said.

“Nothing in the constitution says we should not use electronic device
in the process of accreditation. Anybody that is not satisfied can go
to court. We have solid ground on that,” he said.

He added that the card readers would curb electoral malpractices, as cloned cards would be detected.

Mr. Jega said INEC will perform a mock test on the card readers.

He said some tests had already been taken in the United States, and will now be tested in the six geopolitical zones.

“The card reader has passed in all the 13 test categories conducted in terms of its durability and versatility,” he said.

Mr. Jega said the postponement of the general elections will enable INEC to have a flawless, near-perfect elections.

INEC National Commissioners are to visit state offices to conduct
evaluation and comprehensively determine the level of preparation in the

He said after the visit, the commission will meet with the heads of
departments and directorates of units to conduct a comprehensive
assessment, to figure out additional things to be done before March 28.

r Jega said a meeting with the inter-agency committee on security will hold a meeting to discuss security on the Election Day.

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