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ACN Wants Delta Guber Rerun Postponed

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: INEC CHAIRMAN, PROFESSOR ATTAHIRU JEGA.
PHOTO: INEC CHAIRMAN, PROFESSOR ATTAHIRU JEGA.
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ABUJA, Dec 27, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has warned INEC not to go ahead with its planned rerun of the Delta governorship election on January 6th 2011, if indeed the electoral body wants a free, fair and credible poll.

In a statement issued in Lagos today by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said there is no credible voters' register in Delta State or anywhere at all in the country to allow for a successful election.

It warned INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega not to allow himself to be stampeded into holding an election that will signal the lack of readiness by the commission to organise successful general elections next year, saying the INEC boss must realise that the buck stops at his desk and that no one, except him, will be blamed for the failure of the 2011 polls.

''The main plank of the Court of Appeal's nullification of the 2007 Delta's State governorship election was the failure of INEC to tender or even plead the voters' register allegedly used in the April 14, 2007 election. The Court went on to hold that this failure constituted absence of one of the vital constitutive activities that define an election, thereby tainting the elections with irreversible electoral due process deficit.

''One would therefore reasonably have presumed that the first thing INEC would place as a priority would be the provision of a credible voters' register for Delta state governorship rerun election,'' ACN said.

The party said with the arrival of DDC machines to be used for the voters' registration, INEC should embark on a fresh voters' registration exercise for Delta State ahead of the rerun, to serve as a test case for the registration process and engender confidence in the Delta Rerun.

To support its claim that there is no credible voters' register in Delta or anywhere in the country for that matter, ACN said the CD-ROM that INEC reluctantly released to the opposition parties (in Delta) three days to the election of April 14th 2007 was found to be blank, when downloaded.

It said a second CD-ROM, which was belatedly released by INEC as the authentic electronic version of the supposed Delta state voters' register - when downloaded - was so fraught with discrepancies that the Court of Appeal annulled the register in 14 out of the 25 local governments, adding: ''Therefore as of today, there is no credible voters' register in Delta state.''

The party also said INEC has enough time to carry out a fresh voters' registration in Delta before the rerun.

''The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin nullified the Delta State gubernatorial election on the 9th of November and gave INEC 90 days within which to conduct a re-run. That in our opinion has given enough time for INEC, using the newly-delivered DDC machines, to get a fresh and credible voters' register for Delta state and use this as a test run for the 2011 election. Why INEC is reluctant to grab this golden opportunity with both hands beats all imagination,'' it said, warning that the Delta governorship rerun cannot be conducted with the old voters' register (where they exist at all) which, even in the words of Prof. Attahiru Jega himself, is not capable of being salvaged or updated.

ACN also said rushing to hold the rerun on Jan 6th as planned will be an affront to the Jan. 11th 2011 hearing date of a matter before the court, filed by the running mate to the presumed deceased candidate of the RPN in the 2007 Delta governorship election.

''The running mate had gone to court to ask to be declared as the only eligible candidate to participate in the Delta governorship rerun on the platform of RPN. The court has asked that all parties be served and to appear before it Jan. 11th to give all parties the opportunity of being heard especially as the courts do not want to be seen as derailing the election process.

''Why then is the indecent haste on the part of INEC to hurriedly fix a date before the court hearing, especially given the fact that the 90 days within which it must conduct the rerun election will not expire until the Feb. 9th?

''We have been reliably informed that the duo of Phillip Umeadi and one Bawa (INEC National Commissioner and INEC Director of Legal Services respectively), who have literally hijacked the management and operations of INEC, gave the advice to the Commission that it can go ahead with the elections, as there is no court injunction restraining INEC from doing so. This is not only devious but also unfair to the judiciary,'' ACN said.

The party said the way and manner the Delta rerun has been handled so far gives the impression that nothing has changed in INEC since the discredited Iwu era, and that Prof. Jega may have been hemmed in by those bent on seeing to it that INEC under him fails woefully, as it did under Iwu.