By Emeka Samuel, Uyo
A political and social pressure group in Akwa Ibom, the Justice and Development Initiative has called for the resignation of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission Prof Mahmoud Yakubu and the newly appointed national collation officer for the Presidential election Mrs Amina Zakari.
It has also expressed worry that the personal relationship of a brother of Mrs Zakari to the state APC leader Senator Godswill Akpabio could also influence the electoral process and result collation for
the polls in Akwa Ibom. In a statement made available to newsmen in Uyo on Tuesday and endorsed by its President and Secretary, Tom Chris Morgan and Henry Bassey respectively, the group intained that the INEC chairman by the appointment of Mrs maintained as demonstrated incapacity to manage
and withstand pressures from vested interests in the election.
It also said that Zakari’s denial of having a relationship with the President against all proofs made her unfit to occupy such a position of trust even as her husband’s candidature of the APC in the Bauchi
South Senatorial race would expose her to bias. “Appointing a relative of the President and a indidate in the presidential election into such a sensitive electoral position amounts to an apparent
Conflict-of-Interest situation while the INEC chairman appears to have bowed to pressure from the Presidency and the APC in their desperate bid to ensure that the election result is manipulated in their favour.
“Amina’s denial of any relationship with President Buhari also puts a huge question mark on her honesty, probity, and trustworthiness. A person who can lie this casually about something as basic and as verifiable as her relationships is disreputable and unworthy of the responsibility she’s been entrusted with at INEC.
“So what is the truth? In a December 27, 2018 article, Mohammed Haruna, former Daily Trust columnist and current INEC commissioner, confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s biological sister was once married to Mrs. Amina Zakari’s father. That makes Amina Buhari’s
niece. This is the definition of a niece in the Oxford English Dictionary: “A daughter of one’s brother or sister, or of one’s brother-in-law or sister-in- law.” Amina’s father was Buhari’s brother-in-law and that makes her his niece.
“Mrs. Amina Zakari is not only a blood relative of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari but also married to the Senatorial candidate for Bauchi South. Therefore by consanguinity and affinity,
her hands are tied.
It expressed reservations over the intentions of the President on the election pointing out to earlier allegations made by another Presidential candidate Mrs Oby Ezekwesili and the Peoples Democratic
“Recall that former Oby Ezekwesili, the ACPN presidential candidate and a woman known for her intolerance to unfairness had in condemning the appointment said it “suggests a brazen attempt to ease rigging for the APC’s candidate in the elections. Zakari can be assigned another task far away from tasks that can hinder our electoral integrity. The INEC chairman has obviously bowed to President Buhari’s visible and increasingly brazen determination to not just rig but to steal the 2019 presidential election and throw the country into crisis. “Or how else can one describe this repugnant action of placing the President’s niece, Mrs Amina Zakari, at the head of the centre for collation of election results. The President and INEC chairman should know that this extremely repugnant and provocative act of political corruption that seeks to undermine our democracy and destabilize the country shall be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians. I caution the INEC chairman and the Presidency to reverse this shameful posting immediately and safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections.”
“Also recall that the PDP in a statement condemning the appointment has said that “It is now clear that in addition to the relationship by affinity, President Buhari also has a consanguinity relationship with Amina Zakari and has not denied that he started his early childhood in Amina Zakari’s father’s house. President Buhari’s admittance has effectively established that the PDP has not been crying wolf on the impropriety of involving Mrs. Amina Zakari in the collation of Presidential election results, let alone being appointed to head the final determination of the Presidential election.
“If indeed, President Buhari is a man of integrity and is not pushing an ulterior motive with Amina Zakari, why is he insisting that she must be in INEC and that she must be at the collation of Presidential result. It is totally unethical and immoral for an umpire to insist on officiating a contest even when her impartiality is called to question”
“Nigerians want a new direction and the President must avoid actions that suggest he wishes
to suppress the aspirations of the people in the 2019 elections. Any action of the President that aims at giving him an advantage in the February elections amounts to political corruption and abuse of power since he is using his political power for personal gain as a candidate. INEC must not only be fair but must be seen to be fair to all Including registered political parties and especially to Nigerians
who are the stakeholders of the Nigerian project.” It said.
Having a brother of Mrs Zakari as a close friend of the APC leader in Akwa Ibom according to the statement “could also influence and enable him to perpetuate his infamous “warsaw saw war” threat against other parties during the conduct of the elections in Akwa Ibom. They have been friends since their Secondary School years in Federal Government College in Port Harcourt. We are not losing sight of this and its implication on the outcome of the state and federal elections in Akwa Ibom.
“As a body committed to peace, justice and development we therefore call on INEC to reverse the appointment of Zakari as chairperson in the interest of justice, equity and fairness inorder to ensure peace and give all the candidates a level playing ground.We call on Mrs Zakari to resign her appointment given the fact that she repeatedly failed the impartiality test especially on her dispositions in the immediate past governorship elections in the South-West where she was
in charge of electoral operations and logistics.
“We call on the INEC Chairman , Professor Mahmoud Yakubu to resign his appointment because his appointment of a relative of the President into a such a sensitive position has revealed his bias and lack of capacity to withstand influence and intimidation from vested interests in the 2019 election We also call on the international community to join the Nigerian people and prevail on President Buhari to practice the Peace Accord, with exemplary actions, in order to build confidence in the process he is leading.”