Posted by By Festus Owete and Olusola Fabiyi on
The Transition Monitoring Group has raised the alarm over the election timetable announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Transition Monitoring Group has raised the alarm over the election timetable announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission. It said the timetable was full of dangerous gaps and traps that could throw the country into constitutional crisis.
Also, Second Republic Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, said utterances emanating from INEC had raised doubts about its capability to be fair.
According to a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by its National Coordinator, Mrs. Mabel Ade, the TMG said sufficient period was not provided by the INEC to accommodate run-off elections in the event that no presidential candidate won on the first ballot.
The group, therefore, asked the commission to revisit the timetable and reschedule the presidential election and the National Assembly for April 14, 2007 instead of April 21, 2007; The gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections were also suggested to be rescheduled for April 7 as against April 14.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, had on August 29 released the election timetable.
According to him, while the presidential and National Assembly elections will be conducted on April 21, the gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections will hold on April 14.
The statement on Wednesday said, ”The TMG is deeply worried at the sequence of the elections and the dangerous gaps embedded in the said timetable and sequence of elections.
“The TMG believes that unless the sequence and timeline for the elections are reviewed, the country may be heading towards a programmed failure of the process and this may invariably lead to constitutional crisis.
”The TMG is worried at the optimism of the INEC that a candidate must secure on the first ballot a majority of votes cast and one quarter of all the votes cast at the election in two thirds of the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
“The timetable released by the commission has no allowance for the possibility of a second election in case no presidential candidate wins on the first ballot.
”The TMG‘s worry is predicated on the provisions of section 132 (2) of the 1999 Constitution that makes it mandatory that elections to the office of the president shall be held on a date not earlier than sixty days and not later days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the officer.
”The term of office of the President will expire in May 2007 and this leaves the commission with the eight days to conduct the presidential elections, collate the results and announce the results within a period of less than five days. Any encroachment to the constitutional cut off period will make the elections and the results null and void.
”The TMG is therefore worried that if this issue is not addressed, it may lead to constitutional trap that will guarantee a programmed failure of the electoral process.”
Rimi spoke at the inauguration of the congress and national convention committee of the Action Congress in Abuja.
He said the conduct and utterances of the chairman did not portray him as somebody who would be fair and just in the conduct of the election.
He expressed displeasure with the statement credited to Iwu where he was quoted as saying that ”the purported merger of parties to form the Action Congress had no recognition in the electoral law.”
Rimi described the statement as unfortunate because ”the party never submitted any application for merger before the commission. For the avoidance of any doubt, merger was never involved in the growth or the metamorphosis of the party to a mega party.
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