Jega’s exit will take a natural course – FG

The exit of Prof. Atahiru Jega as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission will take a natural course, the Federal Government has said.
Supervising Minister of Information and Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, said this when he met with newsmen at the headquarters of the Ministry of Information in Abuja on Friday.
While answering a question on whether the Federal Government planned to send Jaga on terminal leave before the expiration of his tenure in June, Duke said Jega would not be sacked as President Goodluck Jonathan had pledged but added that his exit from the electoral body would follow a natural sequence.
The minister said, “On the issue of the INEC chairman, I align myself with what the president said that he has no plan to sack the INEC chairman.
“That is not to say that if it is time for the INEC chairman to naturally exit his office, then the natural course of things will not take place.
“It is like saying, a civil servant has done 35 years or achieved the age of 60; we now begin to say that he must not retire or he must retire. I think all of that is in the terrain of the presidency and he has spoken.”
Duke added, “I will also like to say once on that issue. I recall that for several weeks now; people keep threatening the president on the shift in the date of the poll. You begin to wonder that parties have a couple of extra weeks in order to reinvigorate their campaigns and try to reach as many voters as possible. Rather than do that, you begin to identify imaginary pockets of unlikely developments and then focus your attention on them and then when you lose election, you begin to complain.”
Members of the All Progressives Congress in the Senate had on Thursday alleged that there was a fresh plot by the Federal Government to prevent Jega from superintending over the forthcoming general elections.
The APC senators, led by George Akume, told a news conference in Abuja that they heard from a reliable source that the Head of Service would direct Jega to proceed on his pre-retirement leave next week.
“We have received information from a very credible source that next week, the Chairman of INEC will be given a letter from the office of the Head of the Civil Service to proceed on a terminal leave,” they said.
The opposition senators alleged that the Federal Government was trying to use a circular from the HoS dated August 11, 2010 to place Jega on compulsory pre-retirement leave.
They said, “Whether the letter emanates from the HoS office or the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, it does not make sense. Even if we go by the terms of the Civil Service circular of August 11, 2010, (it) is not applicable whatsoever to the INEC chairman.”
The lawmakers explained that the circular, with reference number HCSF/CMO/1772/TI/11, talks about clarifications on pre-retirement leave, which is only applicable to tenured officers who are career civil servants.
They said anyone who has spent 30 years in service or has attained 60 years of age was bound to disengage officially from the service. The senators however said that the case of Jega did not fall into any of these.
The lawmakers claimed that Jega’s offence was his readiness to conduct the elections when the Peoples Democratic Party-controlled Federal Government was not.
The opposition senators insisted that using the issue of card readers to discredit Jega would not work because the National Assembly appropriated money for that purpose.

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