By NBF News

The Senate yesterday expressed apprehension over preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2011 general elections, noting that the needed Direct Capture Machines (DCMs) are yet to be ordered.

Spokesman of the senate, Ayogu Eze, who spoke of the fears, at a Press conference in Abuja, said that more worrisome in the action of INEC so far was that the process of ordering the Direct Data Capture Machines was still on-going within the commission.

According to Senator Eze, 'we think that if that is the case, we have serious fears whether indeed, the time extension INEC under Prof. Attahiru Jega is getting will be enough for them. We are considering what happened in the process of the budgeting that by now, the exercise of trying to conduct a voter register would have been on and we are now hearing it is the National Assembly.'

He explained that the National Assembly had thought that by passing INEC budget, passing the Electoral Act 2010 as well as altering the 1999 Constitution, it had done its work only for the electoral commission to come up with additional requirement outside what had been agreed upon.

Senator Eze further said; 'Some of the provisions in the Electoral Act 2010, which we have been asked to amend now were brought by INEC. They wrote to us making those suggestions and we incorporated the suggestions only for the same INEC to turn round that the time frame suggested by them is no longer sufficient.

'So, we want to state categorically that the National Assembly is not standing in the way of any agency or any arm of government in the process of trying to ensure that we have a free, fair and credible elections. We incorporated everything they requested including even being blackmailed to approve the budget that we have to approve in a hurry.

'It is now not fair for anybody to turn round after that to start accusing the National Assembly. We want to state clearly that whatever is required of us to do to ensure that the next election is free, fair and credible we shall do and we want to challenge anybody who made that assertion to bring any proof of any action that the National Assembly carried out to slow down whatever is happening anywhere.'

Senator Eze stressed that it would be most unfair for anyone to attempt to give a wrong impression that the National Assembly was standing in the way of efforts aimed at ensuring that INEC conducted a free, fair and credible elections.

Senator Eze said: 'We want to state again that we are not in any way standing on the way of INEC or any agency connected with the 2011 election. On the contrary, we have gone to every extent including calling off our holiday to give INEC a chance to do a good job. You are aware that during the holiday, the budget for this exercise came, we called off the holiday and came and passed the budget.

'While that budget was being passed, the impression we got from INEC was that all they needed was that money and everything will been in place. We gave them the money, the story changed that they needed time, in the process of giving them time, the National Assembly is being blackmailed.'