YOU'LL GO TO JAIL, JEGA WARNS INEC OFFICERS AGAINST RIGGING
Following reports of sharp practices among the electoral officers during past elections, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega yesterday summoned the electoral officers across the federation to a meeting warning that any of them caught conniving with politicians in the April polls will be prosecuted and sent to jail.
Jega told the officers that he had reports of some bad eggs among them but that he would not allow any staff of the commission to throw spanner into his efforts at making the April elections the most credible in the history of the country.
At the meeting in Abuja, the INEC boss said he believed that all staff of the commission should key into the vision of the leadership and threatened to prosecute staff of the commission found culpable of committing electoral offences detrimental to the vision.
According to him, the new commission under his leadership was determined to conduct a free, fair and credible election which would go down in history as the best election ever held in Nigeria.
He nevertheless commended them on the success of the recently concluded voters' registration which he described as challenging and that lessons learnt from it would guide the commission in the conduct of the April elections.
The INEC boss noted that he was aware that most members of staff were honest and doing their best under difficult situation the commission found itself, adding that there were 'a few bad eggs' whose activities had tinted INEC's image.
Jega said the difficult situation could not be an excuse for any member of staff to conduct himself or herself in a manner that would jeopardize the integrity of the commission, urging them to turn a new leaf.
While warning the electoral officers against betraying the public trust during the forthcoming elections, the chairman pointed out that those who would be caught on the wrong side of the law were sure to face its full wrath.
Said he: 'Therefore, we will institute necessary reforms and we urge you as you do your work to follow the procedures that are in place, avoid committing electoral offences; because if you do that then you are absolutely on your own.
'We are strengthening our capacity in-house to be able to identify those who are wanting in the discharge of their responsibilities and to make them go through the disciplinary process.
'We will be fair to every body but we will not condone the recklessness and the impunity with which a few of us have conducted their activities in the past.
'I want to plead with all of you please let's join hands to ensure the success of this exercise to have a free, fair and credible elections.
'It is possible, it is doable, it is challenging and difficult but we can do it and if we apply ourselves and we resolve to do it, definitely we will succeed.
'I urge you to turn a new leaf I know that most of you need not be asked to do that but if there is anybody who thinks that the job of an electoral officer is to connive with politicians and to take money and to allow fraud to be perpetrated and to declare false results or fraudulent results; then they should be prepared to answer to the consequences of their actions.
'We will not condone it, we will not protect anybody who does that, we will do our best to apprehend those who have done that and make sure that they are prosecuted.
'I am saying this with the mind that most of you are doing your honest jobs but there are a few bad eggs among us who continue to give us a bad name and it is important for us to do self cleansing so that this negative perception among Nigerians about INEC as an institution will be cured once and for all.
'Many of you out there are very honest people doing your best under difficult circumstances but we must recognize the fact that there are also some of us, a few who are abusing the trust; who are not doing their jobs the way they should do it.
'And who rather than adding value to the work of the commission and to the success of the assignment that we do, are actually undermining the work the commission does.'
Jega noted that the commission was aware of the difficult conditions under which its members of staff were working, adding that the commission was doing its best to improve them.