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Delta Rerun: Jega Has Lost Control Of INEC - ACN

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ABUJA, Dec 30, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) said INEC's decision to go ahead with the gubernatorial rerun in Delta state on Jan. 6th, without addressing the serious concerns raised in many quarters and which could affect the proper conduct of the election, is the clearest indication yet that INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega is fast losing control of the commission.

In a statement issued in Lagos today by the National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party wondered how INEC under Jega can expect to conduct a free, fair and credible election next year, if it cannot even handle a rerun in only one state.

It said INEC's nonchalant attitude in the face of huge challenges confronting the Delta rerun is a worrisome throwback to the days of the discredited Maurice Iwu, and a reminder to Nigerians that the hopes they have placed in Jega to organise successful polls in 2011 may have been misplaced after all.

''A key requirement for any election to be free and fair is that there must be a credible voters' register. This is lacking in Delta, as confirmed by the Court of Appeal, which nullified Uduaghan's election. Yet, INEC insists on going ahead with the rerun. What voters' register does it want to use?

''Let's even agree that INEC is relying on the old, discredited register, why has INEC not displayed it for all the parties to make their claims and objections? On what basis, therefore, is INEC insisting on proceeding with the rerun on Jan. 6th? Can you build any edifice on a quicksand?'' ACN queried?

The party also wondered why INEC is not concerned that sticking to the Jan. 6th will amount to a contempt of court, considering the order of a Federal High Court in Asaba on Dec. 17th 2010, in the case between Ovie Omo-Agege and the real running mate of the deceased RPN gubernatorial candidate.

''The court ordered the 1st and 2nd Respondents that is INEC and the RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSINER DELTA STATE not to deny the applicants that is NKEM MADEZIA and the REPUBLICAN PARTY OF NIGERIA their rights as bonafide members of the party, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice. (The case was then adjourned to Jan. 11th 2011.)

What is the hurry in fixing Jan. 6th, five clear days before the adjourned date, for the rerun? What point is INEC trying to make by ignoring the court? Are we not back to Iwu's days?

''Jega should ask for a copy of the court order if he has not yet seen it. It does not require an interpretation by a SAN to know that the re-run cannot hold until after the 11th of January it said.

ACN repeated its earlier statement that the key top officials of INEC, who worked with Iwu in critical departments of the commission - Operations, ICT and Legal departments - are slowly but surely aiming for Jega's jugular so he can fail woefully like Iwu.

The party said it would continue to monitor and speak out on the developments concerning the Delta rerun, because whatever happens there is a pointer to what can be expected from INEC next year, when the country will hold general elections.

''Some have asked why ACN is interested in the Delta rerun when it does not have a candidate in the contest. Our response is that the issues involved, especially that concerning the voters' register, and contempt and disregard for court orders are of interest to all Nigerians, who are eagerly looking forward to a successful and widely-acclaimed elections next year,'' it said.