20/11/2010 12:12


There are strong indications that a cabal in the Independent National Electoral Commission is keen on preventing the removal of the embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ondo State, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, from the commission.

A source in INEC told SATURDAY PUNCH that a clique in INEC, which played a central role in the governorship rerun election in Ekiti State and brought Adebayo on a collision course with Nigerians and pro-democracy groups, was not disposed to the idea of edging the woman out of office.

Even with her recent indictment by the Court of Appeal in Ilorin, Kwara State, which reversed the outcome of the election she conducted in Ekiti and the public outcry that has followed it, Adebayo’s presence in INEC is not seen to be threatened.

INEC, on its part, has consistently maintained that it does not have the power to hire and fire a REC.

A top official of INEC, who did not want to comment on anything that has to do with Adebayo, however expressed doubts if the REC would be in Ondo to conduct the next election.

The source said, “You these people, how do you even know that (Ayoka) Adebayo would be there (Ondo) as the Resident Electoral Commissioner in 2011?”

Although, the source did not give any hint on what Jega was doing about Adebayo, it was learnt that he was not comfortable with the existence of a clique in INEC, which connived to commit the electoral crimes that marred the 2007 elections.                       

Officials of INEC, who were confronted with the Adebayo issue, have said that it was not the business of the chairman of INEC to remove her.

Such officials put up the repeated argument that Jega lacked the constitutional powers to hire and fire RECs.

When our correspondent contacted the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, on the issue on Friday, he said the placement of manpower in INEC was its internal affair, which needn’t be discussed on the pages of newspapers.

He said, “Well, there are two aspects to your question. The first aspect about the cabal, I don’t know about any cabal. Maybe you want to explain more about that.

“The second aspect is that I have no comment to make. The placement of manpower dynamics of the commission is an internal matter.

“You know that the leadership of this commission took office in July, this year and it came with a high capital of integrity and it is determined to safeguard and preserve that integrity. The commission is determined that elections to be conducted by it will be most credible, free and fair.

“And the workforce is taking a cue from the leadership; the leadership is not sparing any effort to mobilise everybody.

“If there are some hardened deviants, they will be apprehended and brought to book.”

Similarly, a Presidency source absolved President Goodluck Jonathan of blame in the Adebayo issue, saying the President was not in charge of the running of INEC.

He said that there was a leadership in INEC, which should respond to issues involving the organisation at such a high level.

He said, “If anybody has any grouse against Adebayo, they should forward their petitions to the President and the National Assembly.

“In the alternative, the Attorney-General of Ekiti State should bring up charges against her if they are sure they have a serious case against the woman.”

An investigation showed that INEC might be going into the 2011 elections sharply divided.

It was learnt that some officials of INEC viewed Jega as a reformer from outside imposed on the commission to cleanse it.

The source said that such officials colluded to oppose Jega on some critical issues, citing the debate on the postponement of the elections from January to April as one of such incidents.

It was learnt that some of the RECs were opposed to Jega on the date of the elections during the last retreat of top officials of the commission in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

The source said that the opposition to the INEC boss was not as pronounced during the period of Jega’s predecessor, Prof. Maurice Iwu.

The commissioner in charge of information in the commission, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, he did not answer the repeated telephone calls placed to his mobile line.

Also, a text message sent to him on his request to “send text please” was not answered as at the time this report was filed.



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