Some media sources reported yesterday that intimidation featured prominently in the meeting between service chiefs and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega.
The service chiefs allegedly asked Jega to withdraw the card readers. Two ethnic militia groups have also held demonstrations against the use of card readers. Many of the demonstrators openly brandished guns and other dangerous weapons. Interestingly too, the ruling party has been rooting for holding the elections without using the card readers while the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), supports the use of card readers.
Putting all these together, Nigerians are beginning to ask questions. They are worried about the fast approaching elections. If the card reader is meant to stop rigging, why should anyone object to its use? Also, did INEC acquire the card readers without informing the Federal Government? If FG knew about the card readers prior to the procurement, why are the ruling party and the service chiefs vehemently opposed to its use? Again, if FG would not allow its use, why waste huge sums of money on its purchase?
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are constrained to observe that all the above have created a tension-soaked environment. This is contrary to a conducive atmosphere for holding elections.
MURIC charges all stakeholders to soft-pedal at this crucial stage before Nigeria is plunged into chaos. Extreme position on the left or the right at this material time is an ill wind that will blow no one any good.
The status quo has also compelled MURIC to envision the worst case scenario in which the chairman of INEC Jega’s security details could be withdrawn. He might be asked to resign or the youth corpers whom INEC intends to use for the elections might refuse to work for fear over their personal safety. INEC may also be sabotaged either from within or from outside the electoral institution. Withdrawing Jega’s security details will imply open intimidation. It will also backfire because it is bound to incriminate FG. This must not happen.
We advocate caution in all these scenarios. The international community is watching. We invite all stakeholders to recharge their patriotism. Elections come and go, Nigeria must remain. Let us all drop thoughts of embarking on unconstitutional acts, sabotage, violence or secession.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
E-mail: [email protected]
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/