The House of Representatives on Tuesday warned the Federal Government against tampering with the existing “arrangements” for the March 28 elections, particularly the removal of the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
The House noted that changing the election plans either by further extending the dates or removing Jega would only lead to a magnitude of violence, worse than what was witnessed after the 2011 polls.
In a resolution in Abuja, the House drew the attention of the political class, the Federal Government, state governments and security agencies to warnings of unavoidable violence already issued by eminent Nigerians and groups, both on the international and local scenes.
The resolution was taken following a motion moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, Ali Ahmad.
The development came as the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, at a separate session, raised the alarm that the dark days of military coups might return if the country continued to progress in error.
During Tuesday’s plenary, lawmakers also warned that “persons” whose actions would have led to such violence must be held accountable at all judicial levels.
Part of their resolution read, “Hold personally accountable at domestic judicial forum or at the International Court of Justice, any persons or organisations that foist on INEC any decision or action whatsoever, including unconstitutional attempt to remove the current INEC chairman, that has the effect of making it impracticable for elections to hold on 28th March and 11th April, 2015.”
Besides, members made it clear that removing the INEC chairman would be unconstitutional except if it secured the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, as prescribed in Section. 157(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
“Such removal can only be achieved when two things happen, viz, (a) his inability to discharge the functions of the office, or (b) for misconduct, as determined by two-thirds of the Senate,” the resolution added.
The Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House made spirited attempts to stop the motion but failed.
The House Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, had raised an objection on the grounds that the motion was “speculative” as there was no evidence suggesting that Jega was about to be removed.
“Nobody is interested in removing Jega; so, we can’t entertain such a speculative motion,” Ogor protested.
But, he was overruled by Tambuwal and the motion was passed in a majority voice vote.
The Speaker also did not allow members to debate the motion, a move that earned him murmurs from some PDP lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Tambuwal, while speaking at a meeting with a coalition of civil society groups, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, observed that the “signs” of a possible return to dark days in Nigeria were everywhere for all to see.