Group petitions Jega over Benue by-election

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BY DANIEL GBABO

An umbrella body, socio-political organization, Democracy and Justice Initiative, has petitioned the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega over his alleged bias in the controversial Buruku House of Representatives seat in Benue state.

The petition titled “Fresh Election into Buruku Federal Constituency of Benue State: Role of Prof. Attahiru Jega” dated September 15th, 2015 and signed by John Adoyi Odoga and Terngu Msuega, Executive Director and Secretary respectively stated amongst other things that attempt by Jega and INEC to conduct elections into the constituency not minding the court case has shown that Nigerians need to know more on INEC’s interest in the matter.

The Buruku federal constituency seat hitherto controlled by the APC became vacant since 30th May 2014 when the Supreme Court in its judgement sacked  Hon. Orker Jev and directed that elections be conducted within 90 days to fill the vacuum.

INEC  had earlier fixed 23rd August 2014 for fresh elections as directed by the court but later suspended same citing a pending motion at the Supreme court that was served on them as the reason.

Suspending the polls, the commission through its Secretary, Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu in a statement said , “The suspension is sequel to a motion on notice served on the commission from the Supreme Court urging the court to set aside it’s order on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct fresh election in Buruku federal constituency.”

Utterances of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state in the media, according to the group, suggests that INEC is making clandestine moves to conduct the polls and requested to know from the Chairman of the Commission if the said Motion on Notice filed on June 18, 2014 by Hon. Sekav Dzua Iortyom, which prompted the suspension of the election has been determined by the Supreme Court to warrant the conduct of the said election.

“Secondly, the Chairman’s role in the Buruku Federal Constituency has left so much to be desired. While the same case instituted by Hon. Sekav Dzua Iortyom was pending at the Federal High Court, Makurdi, the Chairman of the Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega had unilaterally signed and issued a Certificate of Return to Hon. Sekav Iortyom when there was no court order to that effect. The said certificate of return worsened the matter as the Buruku Federal Constituency had two certificates of return at a point.”

The petition which accused both Governor Gabriel Suswam and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who always boasts that the INEC boss was his “boy” during their ASUU days stated further that, “we wish to remind Prof Jega that the Constitution and the Electoral Act govern the activities of INEC. It is not within the purview of the Commission or that of the Chairman to conduct elections arbitrary. The Supreme Court had ordered the conduct of election within 90 days into the Buruku Federal Constituency on May 30, 2014. 90 days has since lapsed by effluxion of time. Therefore, there is no justification whatsoever for INEC to order the conduct of any election after the expiration of the Supreme Court order”.

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