Jonathan 2011: More Trouble In Inec, Jega Queries Inec Commissioner, Philip Umeadi


More symptoms of internal squabbles brewing in the Nigerian National body, the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] continue to seep into the public arena as the electoral polls draw near. This is as has received information pointing to an unfolding query of one of the INEC commissioners by the name Philip Umeadi. As informed, sources within the INEC blew the whistle – informing the INEC Chairman of a N150million fraud.

At the background of the new trouble - is the protracted crisis of leadership of the All Progressive Grand Alliance [APGA] which has lasted through the tenure of three INEC Chairmen. This time the dispute has assumed a new dimension. During the third week of September a letter was signed by the Secretary of INEC, Abdullahi Kaugama informing Victor Umeh that the Commission has decided to recognize and deal with him as the authentic chairman of APGA. The letter claimed to be acting in accordance to the ruling of the court.

But available information indicate that there has not been a court ruling. The source point to forgery and foulplay. He stated that Philip Umeadi masterminded the forgery of the said letter in exchange for N150million inducement made available by the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi.

The letter signed by Kaugama and dated August 31st 2010 was revealed to the INEC chairman as having been backdated. In their claim, the Commission had no records of such letter by mid September 2010. gathered that the office of the Chairman of the Commission, Prof.Attahiru Jega was taken aback by the letter recognizing Umeh - saying he was not aware when such decision was taken or who took the decision.

Reactions by workers at INEC office spelt fear. Particularly civil servants at both the legal department and the political parties monitoring department of INEC are said to be uneasy with the unfolding letter forgery scandal... because the controversial letter was written personally to Umeh and signed by the Secretary of INEC with an originating reference number from the department of Political Parties Monitoring instead of the Secretary's office.

According to one of the whistle blowers, in their brief to the INEC Chairman, they managed to convince Jega that the Commissioner in charge of Legal Services Service [Philip Umeadi] was behind the hurried drive to make Umeh Chairman. And that the project was bankrolled by the governor of Anambra state at a sum in excess of N150million.

The Chairman of INEC has decided to set up a query of Philip Umeadi's involvement in the letter, and to verify the authenticity of the said letter.

Meanwhile, the latest mishap comes at a 'wound-licking' period for the INEC who had recently failed in its time table for the upcoming general elections in Nigeria. The INEC chairman, Jega under pressure from the Nigerian President reacted to cancel and postpone the schedule for electoral exercise and election date - to a date in the first week of April 2010.

In its move to recoup from the embarrassment, the INEC drafted and submitted a revised election schedule to the Presidency, of which the President forwarded to the legislators – after having added some amendments.

In the revised schedule, President Jonathan re-introduced into the electoral act the allowance for his appointed aides [Federal Ministers and the-likes] to serve as automatic delegates in his party's presidential primary. The present electoral act which President Jonathan signed into law barely three months ago amidst reverberating applause by the citizenry – had removed such allowance.

Its reintroduction, according to watchers of politics, shows a surprising display of uncertainty within the Jonathan camp over the upcoming PDP primaries. To them, the President has become jittery.

As icing on the cake, the saga of the delayed election schedule appears not to have turned its last page. The concern being that the recent contract agreement for the delivery of voter registration materials given to three firms does not guarantee [realistically] that it will meet the revised schedule resubmitted by INEC.

The INEC has no alternate measures for emergency supply of the voter registration materials - should the firms fail to deliver. A worried INEC official observed. He adds that the INEC Commissioners are buried deeply in the wallets of INEC contractors - confirming the widely reported push to “corner and reserve” choice contracts for their choice contractors by INEC commissioners. The bigger worry is that Prof Jega might not be up to task to quell the brewing trouble.