The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum, SMBLF, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu and the Service Chiefs.
The Joint Secretary of the forum, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, spoke in a chat with Punch.
The forum said there were indications that Yakubu might rig the 2019 presidential election in favour of Buhari, insisting that the four geopolitical zones that constituted SMBLF had no confidence in Yakubu.
Speaking ahead of the group’s next gathering, Odumakin said, “The meeting is a continuation of our normal consultations on the issue of restructuring to have a just and fair Nigeria. Those issues continue to dominate our agenda.
“We have put our demand for removal of the INEC Chairman and the service chiefs as a cardinal issue. We are not going to back down on them. We would continue to press on them. They would form part of the issues for discussion on Friday.”
Odumakin insisted that the next general polls may not be free and fair, pointing out that 15 out of the 17 security chiefs were from the northern region.
He said, “The impediments (to the 2019 elections) are so many. The major impediment is the security architecture in the country, the way the President has organised the security architecture, having 15 out of 17 service chiefs from his region.
“The tenure of the service chiefs has expired, but he kept them. This is geared towards the 2019 elections. Again, the composition of INEC does not give us confidence about the elections.
“The former acting Chairman of INEC, Amina Zakari, appointed by President Buhari happened to be his relation. Our information indicated that Zakari is more powerful than the INEC chairman. The nepotism that had crept into INEC does not give us confidence that there would be free and fair elections.
“We also learnt a lot of foreigners had been brought in from Niger Republic to register so that they can vote in 2019 and INEC has not responded to this.
“Underage voters were registered in Kano and they voted and INEC set up a committee to look into it, but up till now, it has refused to release the report, why? These are some of our fears for the election in 2019 and if they are not addressed, it is going be so turbulent”.