Northern Elders Forum to take Southern Elders to Court over Accusations

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has threatened to sue the conveners of the Southern Nige­rian Peoples As­sembly (SNPA) to court for alleging that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Com­mission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, is working with top Northern po­litical leaders to rig the coming elections.

A source who attended a meeting of the NEF last Thursday in Kaduna said arrangements had been concluded to seek redress in court for the accusation.

According to the source, those to be joined in the suit as respondents include one time Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Ed­win Clark, a former gover­nor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife as well as a member of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Senator Femi Okurounmu, among others.

It was reliably gathered that the forum took exception to the allegations in view of its political implications on the current electoral process and the future of the coun­try’s democracy.

The forum resolved to refrain from joining issues with SNPA but rather chose to ex­plore the legal option in order not to overheat the polity.

The action of the North­ern leaders followed a press conference recently held in Abuja by the SNPA where Jega was accused of having clandestine meetings with NEF to strategise on how to rig the elections with the ultimate aim of achieving a Northern presidency.

At the said press conference, the SNPA had alleged that Jega directed the release of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to emirs, district heads and some unnamed top politicians in the North which, according to the group, was the reason almost 100 percent distribution of the PVCs had been achieved in that region, while only 50 per cent was achieved so far in the South.

The statement by the group reads in part:
“We authoritatively gathered with unassailable and incontro­vertible evidence that the INEC Chairman, who was away in Lagos for an official engagement, through one of his National Commissioners that represented him, met with select leaders of the Northern Elders Forum, led by Prof. Ango Abdullahi, on the 20th August 2014, where strategies and modalities for enthroning a president of northern extraction through vote rigging were discussed and agreed upon.

“Despite Jega’s public ad­mission that the commission has all funds it requires to conduct the 2015 elections, the group was aware that the Northern Elders Forum obtained and distributed 150 pieces of laptops to INEC for each of the Northern states. This accounted for nearly 100 percent PVC collection rate, especially in the North-west states, as compared with less than 50 percent collection rate in the South­ern states. This is the rea­son why Lagos State, with a sophisticated voting population of over 5.2 million, has not distributed more than 2.5 million PVCs.”

Consequently, the group did not only call for the sack of the INEC chairman, but also joined the fray in the sustained campaign for the postponement of the elec­tions.

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