Attahiru Jega, INEC Chairman
Commission condemns intimidation and harassment of staff in Kano by-election
Two directors and three administrative secretaries of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are among those currently jostling to become the next secretary of the commission.
The office is currently held by Alhaji Abdullahai Kaugama who is expected to retire from service in June this year. By the civil service regulations, he is expected to retire after the mandatory eight years in office.
Also, the commission said it had received reports of assault, intimidation and harassment of voters and election officials during the by-elections into Gaya and Garko state assembly constituencies in Kano State held on Saturday, February 2, 2013.
The INEC secretary is currently on his annul leave and the Director of Audit, Mustapha Kuta from Niger State is acting till he comes back.
Kuta is not contesting for office because he has already spent eight years in office. Though, he remains the most senior Director in the commission.
THISDAY gathered that the administrative secretaries jostling to replace the Secretary of INEC who is currently on leave are the administrative secretary of Lagos State, Mr. Fakorode, his Ondo State counterpart, Kayode Oladimeji and the administrative secretary from Ogun.
Also jostling for the office are the director in charge of Political Party Monitoring, Mrs. Regina Omo-Agege, Wali Uzzi and the Director of INEC ICT, Chidi Nwafor.
Inside sources said that the commission would be looking for someone with legal background as the chairman of the commission is a professor of social science.
Two of the national commissioners of INEC, Prof. Lai Olorude and Mrs. Telema Iremini are lawyers, but obtained their legal certificates as a second degree.
According to INEC sources, one of the officials jostling to become the secretary of the commission has been lobbying to accept the promotion outside the national office.
The Director was last year promoted to the office of Administrative secretary, but has been lobbying against the promotion.
The position of INEC secretary is tactically zoned to the South because the chairman of the commission, Attahiru Jega is from Kebbi State in the North-west and also to correct the lopsidedness in the top management of the commission, which is in favour of the North.
It was gathered that when the incumbent secretary returns from his annul, he would proceed on terminal leave in March.
Meanwhile, INEC has decried the intimidations and harassments of its staff by thugs employed by politicians after the last Saturday by elections in Kano state.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, the commission said, “Field reports available to the commission revealed that mobs of armed youths disrupted the electoral process in some areas, harassing and intimidating innocent voters. Electoral officials were also intimidated, harassed and threatened, while some INEC supervisory officials were assaulted”.
INEC said that it was disappointed that the culture of thuggery, intolerance and unruly conduct by partisans yet bedevil the electoral process in Nigeria.
INEC said in the statement, “Regrettably, the reports also showed that despite the overwhelming show of force by armed youths during the Kano State by-election, security agents failed to intervene. INEC is concerned that under the circumstance, the elections were conducted in an unwholesome atmosphere that interfered with voters’ exercise of their freedom of choice.”
Accordingly, the statement from INEC said, “The commission hereby affirms that this sort of situation must not be allowed in our political process because it subverts the fundamental principle of free, fair and credible elections. INEC therefore calls on security agencies to remain vigilant; and to promptly intervene, whenever necessary, against the use of thuggery to intimidate or harass voters, thereby subverting the political process.”