Senate Apprehensive, Summons Jega; Doubts His Readiness For Polls

Source: EMMA UCHE -
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ABUJA, Oct 12, (THEWILL) - The Senate today literarily expressed doubt over the readiness of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, to conduct the 2011 general elections and warned him not to blame the National Assembly for any shortcomings towards the polls.

The Senate which also summoned Jega to appear before it to explain his statement blaming the National Assembly for delays in the initial process heightened the doubt when it also declared that it has suddenly become apprehensive whether the time extension being requested would be sufficient for INEC.

Senate’s spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze told a press conference after the plenary where it invoked the order of privileges to discuss Jega’s Monday statement that the National Assembly has been up and doing and even to the extent of being blackmailed to approve a budget, just to support INEC to conduct a credible election next year and as such would not be accused of delays.

It was wrong he added for the INEC Chairman to be quoted to have made a statement that tended to give a wrong impression; "that we are doing anything in the National Assembly to stand in the way of the current efforts to ensure that INEC does not give free, fair and credible elections.

"We thought by passing the budget, electoral Act and the alteration of the Constitution that we have done our job, because some of the provisions in the electoral Act which we have been asked to amend now where brought by INEC, they wrote to us making those suggestions and we incorporated these suggestions only for INEC to turn round that the time frame suggested by them are no longer sufficient," Ayogu said.

Continuing, he added: "We gave that money, the story changed that they needed time, in the process of giving them time, but even in the National Assembly we were very apprehensive that up till this moment that we are speaking about, if the newspapers reports are anything to go by, that the Direct Capture Machines (DCMs) have not been ordered.

"The process of ordering these machines is still on within INEC, we think that if that is the case we have serious fears whether indeed even the time extension they are getting will be enough for them, because we are considering what happened in the process of the budgeting that by now the exercise of trying to conduct voters registration would have been on and we are now hearing it is the National Assembly. We want to challenge anybody who made that assertion to bring any proof," he said.

He nonetheless, assured that the Senate and indeed the National Assembly would ensure that it passes the second amendment bill early enough, but would not succumb to accusations.