The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) noted with dismay a front page advertorial by a faceless group in some National Newspapers on Wednesday, March 25, 2013, alleging a plot by the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Jega to rig the 2015 general elections. The group cited the constitution of a presidential election result collation committee by the INEC Chairman Jega as the basis for its allegation that a plot to rig the election has been hatched.
INEC would not have bothered to respond to such patently cynical and malicious allegation, but for the fact that the elections are days away and otherwise respectable National Newspapers have lent themselves to be used as platforms to disseminate such falsehood. Any misinformation, – even as baseless as in this particular case – unless corrected could mislead innocent or undiscerning members of the public and cause unnecessary apprehension about the credibility of the electoral process.
The Commission affirms that the allegation to manipulate or rig the election is completely false and baseless. The Chairman of the Commission as the Chief Electoral Commissioner of Nigeria and the Returning Officer of the presidential election, has statutory and legal powers to constitute administrative committee(s) to facilitate the performance of his duties. The constitution of an in-house committee to assist in the collation process after the presidential election is purely an administrative arrangement to assist the Chairman. Members of the committee are officials of the Commission. They work as professionals and non-partisan technocrats and have sworn to the oath of neutrality in the execution of their official duties. They are drawn from the Operations, ICT and Legal departments of the Commission as well as the Office of the Chairman. This arrangement is not new and was the same as during the 2011 general elections.
INEC condemns these sinister and unpatriotic attempts to create unnecessary controversies aimed at discrediting the Commission through dissemination of falsehood. The Commission assures Nigerians of its commitment and resoluteness to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The Commission will not hesitate to institute legal action, where necessary, to protect its members from malicious and libelous allegations.
Kayode Robert Idowu is Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman
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