A civil society organisation, the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group, has said that the call for the removal of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is an attempt to undermine the electoral process.
The Executive Director of the organisation, Dr Chima Amadi, made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
The Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum had called for the removal of Yakubu.
According to the forum, there are accumulated indications that he might rig the 2019 election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amadi therefore said that as stakeholders in the electoral process, they saw the call as â€œthe growing attempts by ethnic entrepreneurs to undermine the integrity of the electoral process”.
â€We also see it as an attempt to diminish the democratic gains our country has made since the return to civil rule in 1999.
â€œIf there are accumulated indications, they point to those successful governorship elections conducted in Bayelsa and Rivers by the selfsame Professor Mahmood Yakubu and won by the opposition parties.
â€The Anambra governorship election is still fresh in our minds in which the candidate of the ruling party lost in every local government area to the extent that even the Ohaneze commended INEC for its transparency in conducting the election.
â€œThe same INEC, two weeks after, successfully concluded the Anambra Central Senatorial District election after staying the course in a protracted legal battle,â€ he said.
The executive director further explained that Yakubu, been of â€œthe same ethnic stockâ€ with Buhari did not make him any less qualified or incapable of discharging the electoral and constitutional functions of his office.
â€œThis call gladdens our hearts on one hand that the call was not based on competence; they did not say he had committed an infraction against the electoral law and laws of our land.
â€œNeither did they say he was not qualified to be the chairman of INEC but that he comes from the region of the country that is the same region with the president.
â€It is interesting that this same group was at work on the eve of the 2015 general election when they called for the sack and arrest of the then INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
â€œThey are doing the same as the 2019 general election approaches. It is their stock-in-trade on behalf of their sponsors,â€ Amadi said.
Also speaking, the President, Public Interest Lawyers League, Mr Aminu Mahmud, described the call as â€œintriguingly worryingâ€.
â€œFor these leaders to come out and pose ethnicity, I think they are posing flash points for an election where the first ballot has not been cast,â€ he said.
Similarly, Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reforms, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said the call was â€œmeaninglessâ€.
He said the call was meaningless because it could not be acted upon.
â€œINEC has closed the opportunity for gatekeepers and there is a reaction.
â€ I have continued to say that elections have gotten better and better, letâ€™s not make that mistake.
â€œThings are getting better; violence in our elections is reducing; the process is getting more and more transparent,â€ Nwagwu said.
He said that the introduction of permanent voter cards (PVCs) and the card readers was the game changer.