Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the chairman of the Independent Nations Electoral Commission [INEC], Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.
The Forum premised its fears on the notion that Prof. Yakubu may not deliver free and fair elections in 2019 as INEC Chairman.
The forum said this at a press conference in Abuja on Sunday. The conference was attended by:
Air Commodore Nkanga Idongesit and Chief Edwin Clark, representing the South-South,
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, South-West;
Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, South-East;
Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (retd.), Middle Belt, et al.
Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Idongesit who delivered the group’s position, cited “the bug of nepotism and sectionalism that this administration is renowned for [which] has eaten up the leadership of the commission.”
He, therefore, demanded the removal of Yakubu as INEC Chairman, saying that there were “accumulated indications” that he might rig the election in favour of President Buhari.
He reasoned that retaining the service chiefs who ought to have retired and keeping Yakubu as INEC boss were suspicious as they would likely play partisan roles in favour of the President.
The statement reads in part: “From 1960 till date, only President Muhammadu Buhari has been audacious to pick only people who are either his relations or of the same ethnic stock with him to lead the electoral body.
“The Balewa Government headed by a Northerner appointed Prof. Eyo Ita Esua from the South, who was in charge of the Federal Electoral Commission from 1960-66; Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba, set up the Federal Electoral Commission under Michael Ani (1976-1979).
“When Dr Goodluck Jonathan came in from the South-South, he appointed Prof. Attahiru Jega from the North-West (June 2010-Oct. 2015).”
The group recalled Buhari had appointed his relation from the North-West, Mrs Amina Zakari, as the acting INEC Chairman when he became President in 2015.
He would later appoint Yakubu, another kinsmen from the North-East, as the substantive chairman. The group continues:
“The relationship between the powerful Amina Zakari and the INEC chairman is so strong that it has the tendency to influence the outcome of the elections in favour of the appointee.”
On the statement credited to the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, to scrap the anti-open grazing law, the group described it as “obnoxious directive”.
It said that the shielding of armed herdsmen by the Federal Government was the cause of tension in the country, which it said could result in anarchy.
The Forum said: “The shielding of Fulani killer-herdsmen remains the strongest flashpoint of invitation to chaos and anarchy in our country as people would not continue to fold their arms forever as they are being killed with the government unwilling to lift a finger in their defence.”
They, therefore, demanded “the immediate withdrawal of this obnoxious directive and for the Federal Government to stop the killings going on and promptly arrest those behind the killings so far for immediate prosecution.”
The forum frowned on the police invitation to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, over the famed Offa bank robbery.
They termed it a “media trial” of Saraki and stated that the police threw away professionalism by their misconduct.