ABUJA—Perturbed by the wave of protests trailing the inconclusive governorship election in Anambra State, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, begged Nigerians not to evaluate his integrity till after the 2015 general elections.
Jega who made the call during an interaction he had with the Civil Society Election Situation Room and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, in Abuja, insisted that the tainted November 16 gubernatorial poll in Anambra should not be a parameter to judge his determination to conduct free, fair and credible election in 2015.
Admits lapses and betrayal
Admitting that there were significant lapses and betrayal of trust by some unscrupulous INEC officials during the poll, Jega said the commission had intensified its effort towards ensuring that corrupt elements within its fold were weeded out before the next general election.
The INEC boss urged members of the public to come forward with evidence against any staff of the commission who was involved in electoral malpractice during Anambra election.
He said: “We had expected Anambra election to be the best but unfortunately it was not. We did our best, however, from all indications, our best doesn’t seem good enough. This is why we have gone back and asked ourselves, how can we continue to do our best so as to meet public expectation?
“We have resolved that no matter what, we shall retain our sanity and remain focused. I have and will continue to tell Nigerians that there is no need for us to panic at this time.
Making things right
“We must put our hands together and make things right, starting with Anambra State. Like I said previously, though we cannot cancel the election, my promise to Nigerians is that we will not spare anybody that has been found to have done anything fraudulent to sabotage our efforts.
“This is why we are still calling for information against any of our officials involved in any act of illegality during the election. Unfortunately for us, people are still very skeptical about our intentions. Yes, I admit that some of our officials in the state did things to undermine public trust, however, we cannot afford to just lose hope in the system because of such people.
Keeping hope alive
“We have to keep hope alive and continue to build confidence. We must deepen our democratic process. We must prevent reversals.
“Obviously, the voters’ register is not perfect. I can however say it boldly that the voters’ register we have today is the best we have ever had in this country. There is no Mike Tyson or Micheal Jackson inside the register like before.
“We will keep on improving it through continuous voters’ registration. There is also the issue of under-aged registrants. There was even community connivance in certain places. They connived and compelled our officers under duress to register under aged persons.”
“The issue here is that once such persons are registered, there is no software to detect under aged electorates. Consequently, what we have done is to produce the permanent voters card. With it, once we have any suspicion , we will ask such electorate to come to our office to collect their card, with that, we can be able to apprehend such offenders.
“We cannot however rely on perceived anomalies in the voters register as an excuse to cancel election in Anambra. The register can never be perfect. No where is the register perfect, we can only make it credible.
“Some people in Anambra went to where their names were pasted on the displayed register, cut it off, laminated it and brought as their own voters card.
“Such person will never have their way except they connived with our official. We have removed at least one person in high position at the commission.
“This is why I am still calling on people to come forward with more evidence. Politicians come to me and say chairman you are the only one that has integrity in the commission, your commissioners are collecting money. When I ask them which of the commissioners they will turn it to a joke.