#2015Elections I can’t guarantee March 28 date, Jega says

Jega stated this on Wednesday, February 18, while appearing before the Senate to explain INEC’s readiness to conduct the polls.

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Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega play

Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has said that he can’t guarantee the conduct of the general elections on March 28 and April 11.

Jega stated this on Wednesday, February 18, while appearing before the Senate to explain INEC’s readiness to conduct the polls.

The INEC chairman added that only the military could determine if the elections would hold on the scheduled dates.

When asked to give a clear assurance on the dates, Jega said:

“I think it is a very difficult question to answer. I have said consistently that there are things under the control of electoral commission and there are things that are not under the control of electoral commission. For things that are under our control, I can give definite and categorical assurances.”

“On what is not under our control, it is futile, it is fruitless and useless to give a definite guarantee on them. I think that question should be directed appropriately. The questions of security, I will leave it, I don’t think I am competent to answer it sufficiently,” he added.

Jega however stated that any further demand for postponement of the polls would be unconstitutional.

“Every Nigerian knows we want elections to hold… within a constitutional time frame.  The security agencies are (made up of) patriotic Nigerians. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. We should be fair also to the military. Soldiers are also patriotic Nigerians.   I don’t see how anybody will contemplate any extension beyond these six weeks. There is no constitutional grounds upon which you can do that. For us, we work by the constitution, by the law. That is what is guiding us and we should all put the interest of the nation at heart,” Jega said.

“I kept saying consistently that INEC is not a security organisation. We are an election management body; so we rely a lot on security to be able to ensure that things are done well and that there is no disruption of the electoral process. We have been working very closely with the inter agencies consultative committee on election security and that is why for us, if the service chiefs say that we can’t guarantee security, give us more time, what is the alternative security arrangements?” he continued.

The INEC chairman also added that the commission has a duty to protect its staff and as such can’t proceed with the polls without adequate security.

“If we consulted with the stakeholders and we cannot find an answer, what happens? We are going to use close to 700, 000 ad hoc staff. We can’t send people to the field in that kind of a situation. Our prayer is that in the next six weeks, there will be significant improvement in the security situation for us to hold the   elections all over this country in a very secure environment,” he said.

“There are certain questions that we are not really competent to answer. Certain questions should be directed to the military; they can answer them better,” he added.

Jega announced the postponement of the elections on Saturday, February 7, citing security concerns.

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