- INEC commissioner not appointed by President
- PDP insists Zakari must go, urges N’Assembly to sack her
By Omololu Ogunmade, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Presidency yesterday in Abuja, dismissed accusations that Mrs. Amina Zakari is the niece of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying Zakari shared no blood relationship with the president.
Consequently, it accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of launching baseless attacks on the INEC commissioner.
But the PDP insisted that Zakari must quit all her positions in INEC, urging the National Assembly to immediately commence the process of her removal.
Zakari, a Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), came under attacks from the PDP on Thursday following her appointment by INEC as presidential election collation officer.
The PDP who described Zakari as Buhari’s niece, said the appointment of the president’s relation to preside over the collation of votes from presidential election was an apparent ploy to rig the 2019 presidential election in Buhari’s favour.
But in a swift reaction yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who described the allegation as a lie, argued that Zakari was not Buhari’s blood relation but only married to a member of Buhari’s extended family.
According to Shehu, PDP’s accusation is misplaced, pointing out that Zakari was not appointed by Buhari but rather by the former government of PDP.
He said her appointment, like the appointments of her fellow commissioners, was only renewed by this government, insisting that PDP lacked the moral right to question her integrity having done her job well.
The statement read, “In another mendacious press release, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued their baseless accusations regarding Hajiya Amina Zakari, a commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accusing her of partiality and casting doubts about her integrity as an electoral commissioner.
“In their desperation, they forget that it was the PDP government that appointed her in the first place and they keep lying, as they have been caught doing on so many issues, by imputing a blood relationship between her and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“President Buhari and Commissioner Amina Zakari don’t share a family relationship. An inter-marriage occurred in their extended families, so the imputation of blood relationship between the President and the electoral commissioner is a simple lie.
“By this statement, the PDP is guilty of scoring an own goal and two, of harassing an innocent citizen on the basis of a lie, pure and simple.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Seek’s Amina Zakari’s resignation
Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday asked Zakari to resign her appointment with the Election Management Body for being “a blood relation” of the President.
The organization also condemned Zakari’s appointment as head of the collation team of INEC in the forthcoming Presidential election.
President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo who reacted to the controversy trailing Zakari’s appointment by the INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu asked Nigerians to hold INEC and the Federal Government responsible should anything happen to the nation’s democracy.
Nwodo said it was bad enough that Mrs. Zakari was allowed to continue to serve in INEC and worse by INEC appointing her in the new position.
“It’s like Rangers VS Kano Pillars and Kano Pillars is allowed to nominate a referee. It’s impossible for justice to be done. In a civilized clime Amina Zakari should have resigned,” he maintained.
“I expected the APC government having come to power through a free and fair election conducted by another president, they should not destroy the history.
“I call on Amina Zakari to honourably resign.
“Whatever happens to our democracy tomorrow, they (INEC and Federal Government) should hold themselves responsible.
“With continued membership of Mrs. Zakari in the commission, the corporate personality of INEC is seriously whittled down; making her head of collation committee is worse than anything anybody can imagine,” he said. Ends
Zakari: Save Nigeria from Imminent Political Crisis, PDP Urges N’Assembly
Meanwhile, the PDP Campaign Organisation yesterday called on the National Assembly to save the country from imminent political crisis by immediately commencing the process of removing Zakari, from INEC.
The main opposition party said that a credible electoral body must be completely impartial, transparent, totally independent and immune from external control by interested entities, noting that these are qualities INEC could no longer lay claim to as long as Zakari remains a member of the commission.
The Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, stated this at a press conference in Abuja, where he said that by foisting Zakari to lead the final process of the election, “Buhari is seeking a way to annex INEC, practically, take over the collation of results, and announce himself the winner.”
He stressed that the party’s position was predicated on the fact that it is clear to all, that “Zakari’s uncle, Buhari, having been rejected by Nigerians, is now using her as virus to compromise the independence of the commission, manipulate the electoral process and rig the Presidential election for him.”
Ologbondiyan added that the Presidency has been using Zakari to bear pressure on INEC even to the extent of brazenly foisting her as the collation officer for the Presidential election to enable Buhari announce himself as winner.
He stated, “This is a clear invitation to anarchy and a huge political crisis capable of derailing our democracy because Nigerians, across the board, are already in vehement rejection of this self-succession plot and are now, more than ever before, ready to use every necessary means available and accessible to them in a democracy to protect our democratic process.”
“As long as Amina Zakari remains in INEC, the commission cannot be trusted. It will interest Nigerians to know that following public outcry against her nomination, Amina Zakari’s agents, last night, surreptitiously attempted to compromise the media by sending secret messages to emails of editors with the view to water down and sway the direction of information on her provocative appointment to lead the collation of Presidential election results.
“Also, we have been informed of how Mrs. Zakari led other top INEC officials to a secret meeting with some top officials of the Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) in Abuja on ways to introduce the controversial Incidence Form under a new name and use such to manipulate the collation of results.”
The party therefore urged Nigerians to brace up to the challenge and stand for democracy by getting ready to vote, protect their votes to the very end and ensure that their choice of Atiku Abubakar as their next President is not subverted by anybody, no matter how highly placed.