By Marcus Ikechukwu
In a move to ensure credibility of electoral processes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has in the interim stopped lodging sensitive electoral materials with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, revealed on Saturday, the electoral body will stop keeping election materials with the CBN starting from the Ekiti State gubernatorial election scheduled for June 16, 2022.
Yakubu announced the latest INEC decision while responding to questions at an election dialogue with the title ‘the Electorate’ on Saturday.
The event was put together by Enough is Enough.
Yakubu said that the decision was a deliberate measure by the commission to ensure that the sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections are not compromised.
The decision is a fallout of the growing concerns about the status of the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele as a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress.
Political parties and other concerned Nigerians have expressed deep worry about the safety of sensitive election materials at the CBN when its Governor has indicated interest to contest the Presidency on the platform of the APC.
The major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party called on President Buhari to sack the CBN Governor because of the party’s conviction that he has joined the APC and was partisan.
Abiola Owiaje, the leader of the National Association of Seadogs, said Emefiele Presidential ambition contravenes the CBN Act.
He recalled that the APC Ward 6 Chairman in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr Nduka Erikpume had disclosed recently that Emefiele registered as a member of APC in February 2021.
Emefiele did not deny being a member of APC but took steps to contest the Presidential primaries of the APC before he dropped his ambition.
The INEC Chairman had given the indication that the commission might not store sensitive materials with the CBN on May 13, in Abuja at the second quarterly meeting with the media.
Yakubu, while reacting to questions concerning the 2023 presidential ambition and the APC membership of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, stressed that the Commission might be forced to find another arrangement for the handling of sensitive materials.
He said the CBN is responsible for the storage and movement of sensitive materials, adding that the Commission has never doubted the capacity of the CBN to discharge that responsibility.
“I understand the context in which the question is asked. But you should also understand the context in which events are unfolding. As we speak our director, litigation and prosecution is in court.
“There is a case in court. We have been invited to state our own side of the story. We usually refrain from talking about such issues because there are essentially subjudice.
“But we are already started talking about what alternatives are available to us in case we need to change the arrangement for the handling of sensitive materials.
“We have started thinking about it. We are aware of the situation. We will watch the situation. We still have nine months before the next general elections. Things may be addressed before then.
“I want to assure you that we will not jeopardize the conduct of the election by creating a misconception around the situation in the process,” Yakubu said.