El Rufai condemns national security adviser's directive
By Emmanuel Ogala
April 1, 2011 02:49AM
A former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nasir El Rufai, yesterday described the National Security Adviser, Owoeye Asiza's directive that voters should vacate polling units immediately after voting as a "huge joke." Mr El-Rufai, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday while addressing reporters on behalf of the Good Governance Group (3G), said Mr Aziza cannot stop voters from monitoring their votes.
"He does not set the rule for election," he said. Mr Aziza had, at a one-day interaction with journalists on Wednesday, warned that a high number of voters at a polling booth portends danger and could be a recipe for mayhem. He said voters will not be assisting INEC in counting their votes "people should just vote and go." But Mr El-Rufai said the retired general's directive is a prelude to rigging, especially as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police have agreed that voters could stay behind after casting their votes in so far as they would comport themselves in an orderly manner.
He must be joking
"The NSA is joking, he is living in the past", Mr El-Rufai said. "We will stay and ensure that nobody tampers with our votes." Mr El Rufai warned that security officials constitutionally owe allegiance to the people of Nigeria and not to any particular candidate.
He also joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to condemn the involvement of the military in the forthcoming elections, saying it would create a climate of intimidation to rig the elections.
"The plan consists of intimidating voters and precluding them from coming out to freely elect candidates of their choice in the 2011 elections, particularly in areas where candidates having the support of the government of the day appear to be unpopular." Mr El Rufai said.
"Our country's democratic aspirations and its prospects for accelerated development can only be enhanced if a massive turnout of voters is encouraged across the country. It will be a massive setback if the results were to be influenced by fear-induced low turnout of voters."
Respect the law
He urged international observers and all election monitors to concentrate on the rural areas where, he said, "election rigging has always been perpetrated in Nigeria." Meanwhile, the international observers yesterday called on political parties and their supporters to respect the code of conduct they signed with INEC.
Kenneth Wollack of the National Democratic Institute, Festus Mogae of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Alorjz Peterle of the European Union observer group and Lorne Craner of the International Republican Institute, in a jointly signed statement, also called on security agencies to contribute to a peaceful environment, maintain the rule of law and safeguard the integrity of the process.
We "encourage INEC at all levels to be independent and work transparently during and after the polling, to accurately tabulate votes and to post results at polling units," the group said.