Posted by News Express | 4 March 2015 | 3,113 times
The House of Representatives, yesterday, warned President Goodluck Jonathan against removing the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, saying his removal could derail the nation’s democracy.
The House has, therefore, resolved to subject anyone involved in moves to remove Jega to judicial prosecution in Nigeria or at the International Criminal Court, (ICC).
President Jonathan has, however, insisted that there was no such plan to remove the INEC chairman.
Speaking in an interview on Al-Jazeera English on Monday, President Jonathan had said: “INEC is a very sensitive body. For me to change INEC chairman, Nigerians will ask questions. So, you cannot wake up and change INEC chairman.”
He said that he had never raised the prospect of a change in the leadership of the commission with “any human being on earth.”
The House resolution that was pushed through by the All Progressives Congress, (APC), majority was despite strong objections by the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), caucus in the chamber.
The House resolution came as Speaker Aminu Tambuwal told a civil rights group that any premature removal of Jega could derail the country’s democracy.
The motion to sanction anyone involved in the alleged plot to prematurely nudge Jega out from the country’s election management body was brought to the House floor by Rep. Ali Ahmed (APC,Kwara).
Moving the motion titled: “Threat to further tamper with the status quo arrangement for the 2015 general elections”, Ahmed noted that “the initial postponement of the general elections for the six weeks due to the security concerns related to the Boko Haram insurgency has further heightened the tempo for pre-election violence.”
He stated that there were already threats and insinuations about further alterations to the status quo arrangements and regulations for the elections, arguing that “any alteration in the status quo arrangements in whatever form at this crucial stage would invariably lead to further postponement of the dates of the elections”.
According to him, the “threat to tamper with the status quo may take several forms, including but not limited to illegal removal of the current INEC chairman”.
He further submitted that “there is already documented evidence from several sources that any change in status quo arrangements, especially removal of the INEC chairman, “presents a possibility of violence” and would occasion the sowing of seeds of major crises”.
Ahmed reminded the House that civil society organizations and some notable Nigerians have already sounded “a note of warning”, and threatened a “showdown” should the Federal Government go ahead to remove Jega.
Quoting Section 157(1) of the 1999 Constitution, he said that Jega could only be removed from office on only two grounds based on “his inability to discharge the functions of the office or for misconduct as determined by two-thirds majority of the Senate”.
He thus “prayed the House to urge the political class, government of the Federation, states and security agencies to heed the warning of imminent and present danger associated with any interference with the existing schedules of the general elections and also hold personally accountable, at domestic judicial forum or at the International Criminal Court, any person or organization that foists on INEC any decision or action whatever, including unconstitutional attempt to remove the current chairman, that has the effect of making it impracticable for the elections to hold on March 28,and April 11, 2015.”
Hardly had Ahmed finished than the deputy leader of the PDP caucus, Rep. Leo Ogor raised a point of order based on House Order 62 which states: “No dilatory motion shall be entertained by the Speaker”.
Ogor said that the motion thrived on speculations, saying that he failed to establish or properly situate the principle of the motion. “Nobody is interested in rumour”, Ogor said as he urged the speaker to dismiss the motion.
His submission received spontaneous jeers from many members of the House, prompting Tambuwal, who presided, to hit the gavel repeatedly in his effort to regain the attention of members.
Turning to Ogor, Tambuwal said: “Thank you, but unfortunately, I have to overrule you.” With the ruling, Tambuwal proceeded to put the question with the ayes drowning the nays.
•Adapted from a Vanguard report. Photo shows Jega.
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