The Senate is to summon the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Professor Attahiru Jega over statements credited to him by the media that the delay by the National Assembly in amending the constitution will jeopardize the May 29 handover date.
The decision followed a motion raised by the Senate Majority Whip, Senator Kanti Bello, that the INEC boss had criticized the National Assembly for being responsible for the delay in the preparations for the polls.
According to Senator Bello, What Jega said and reported by the dailies amounted to blackmail and something has to be done about it. When it came to the issue of money, the National Assembly responded. We cut short our recess to handle the budget. So for him to turn to blame us now is rather unfortunate.
Senators Ayogu Eze and Thompson Sekibo in their contribution to the motion, said the statement is a deliberate attempt by INEC to shift the blame to the National Assembly for its lapses, they added that it is a conspiracy that should not be allowed to happen.
Senator George Sekibo described Jega's remarks as a conspiracy against the National Assembly and expressed fears on the ability of INEC to conduct free and credible polls in 2011.
I foresee a situation where people fail in their duty or job and blame it on National Assembly Sekibo warned.
In his ruling, the Senate President, Senator David Mark said the National Assembly had done everything humanly possible to ensure that INEC is adequately equipped for the task ahead as such it is unfair for the INEC boss to make such a statement.
This is a very serious allegation even though I have not read the report. We have done everything humanly possible to assist INEC. We cut short our recess to approve the budget sent to us; when the leadership met, the figure presented was different and in excess and yet we approved it because we don't want to be seen as sabotaging the process".
"If it is true he made the statement, Jega owes us an explanation. We must ask him to clarify his statement because for him to label us as saboteurs is totally uncalled for and we don't deserve it. If INEC fails, it should not hold anybody responsible because this is a very serious allegation and it should not be taken lightly Mark said.
He ruled that Professor Jega is to apologise to the National Assembly, while he is also to appear before the senate committees on INEC and Ethics to explain himself.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Professor Attahiru Jega, had said on Monday while receiving a delegation of the European Union that the delay in passage of the second amendment to the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act by the National Assembly is frustrating the work of the Commission.
Professor Jega was also reported to have said that We are getting conflicting signals and if there are any delays in the National Assembly, it will affect us. The faster they are able to complete the amendment process, the better for us. If we have to get extension around November or December, then we will be back to square one. We do not want any extension that would affect the May 29th handover date."