…Says he’s not under pressure.
…No going back on use of card readers.
By Sadiq Umar, Abuja.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Monday told critics pointblank that he will neither resign nor proceed on terminal leave until he discharge his constitutional duty of conducting the 2015 general elections.
Some groups including prominent members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have demanded the resignation of the INEC chairman, accusing him of partisanship.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Abuja, Monday, Jega said he is duty-bound to conduct the March 28 and April 11 elections, adding that it would be a disservice to abandon that responsibility midway to the crucial assignment.
Jega dismissed reports that he was under intense pressure to quit the job, that it is far from reality, adding that nobody has even told him to proceed on leave.
“I am not under any pressure to resign, the issue of terminal leave is voluntary. Why will I resign when I have a constitutional duty? Until, April 11, I have a duty. I think it is a disservice for anybody to resign at a stage there is serious assignment like the one I am doing,” the INEC boss declared.
“No sensible person, in my view, will contemplate leaving when there is a duty. I read about the pressure on me to resign or that anybody want to sack me on newspapers like everybody. Nobody has told me to proceed on terminal leave.”
Jega also told critics of deployment of soldiers for the elections that there is no going back on the decision to use soldiers for the polls.
He said the soldiers will not be at the polling units but would only be on standby to assist when there is breakdown of law and order which the police cannot control.
He said soldiers would only be called in for help “on the invitation of the Inspector General of Police”.
“The role of each of the security agencies is to add value to the elections, but within the constitutional framework of such agency,” he added.
“Everybody in INEC is focused on the efforts to deliver the best elections in the history of the country,” insisting that the Commission is ready to deploy electronic card readers for the elections regardless of the opposition to it.
He said the postponement of the elections from February to March provided Commission the opportunity to further demonstrate use of the card readers, dismissing critics as diversionary and a ploy to move the country backward.
Jega said though the technology is a new innovation for INEC but that the Commission had done quality assurance test which he said “certified the card readers will work.”
According to the INEC boss, the recent field-testing of the card readers carried out by its official have shown that the devices recorded 100 per cent success.
“If we don’t use card readers, we will lose respect and credibility. We will be going back to old ways when alteration of results were possible,” he said.
He also said that about 700,000 permanent voter’s cards are yet to be delivered, saying however, that the cards in question belong to voters who registered during the continuous voters’ registration which ended in December last year.
He however assured all the remaining cards will be delivered and available for collection latest on Saturday 21st of March, 24 hours to deadline for collection.