A group says Okechukwu Ibeanu, the national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in charge of logistics, and key activists of Igbo descent are being targeted in mudslinging campaign.
Reacting to reports linking Ibeanu and some activists to the campaign of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the group said mischief makers were out to create confusion.
Some these activists said to be targeted are Olisa Agbakoba, Clement Nwankwo, Sam Amadi, Innocent Chukwuma and Chidi Odinkalu.
Members of the group are Adele Jinadu, chair, Election Analysis Centre; Femi Falana SAN, legal practitioner; Ebere Onwudiwe, political economist; Jibrin Ibrahim, political scientist; Y. Z Ya’u, co-chair, Situation Room, Idayat Hassan, director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Ayo Obe, legal practioner; Hussaini Abdu, country director, Plan International; and Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, executive director, CISLAC.
In a statement on Tuesday, the group said making Ibeanu the “fall guy” for the botched elections is wrong.
“This morning, we learnt that Professor Okechukwu Ibranu, INEC National Commissioner was summoned to report to the Department of State Security (DSS) for interrogation,” the group said.
“We understand that the DSS has since withdrawn the summons but we remain concerned. Our concerns stem from a web design that suddenly emerged on the social media yesterday presenting alleged linkages between the Atiku Campaign Organisation and leading civil society activists of Igbo ethnicity and Professor Ibeanu in INEC.
“Key civil society activists were targeted in the campaign – Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Clement Nwankwo, Sam Amadi, Innocent Chukwuma and Chidi Odinkalu. Alleged linkages were then drawn to Professor Ibeanu and Mike Ogini of INEC, Bukola Saraki in Senate and the Ballard facilitation of the Atiku trip to the United States and even Donald Trump.
“Within hours of the circulation of this web, a massive social media campaign with the hashtag INECIbeanuMustGo was trending presenting Ibeanu as the Atiku Campaign mole in INEC with responsibility for scuttling last Saturday’s election and rigging the forthcoming elections. We know Okechukwu Ibeanu to be a committed democrat who has devoted his life to the struggle for peace and democracy in Nigeria.
“He is a respected professor of political science and was in charge of logistics, having taken over from Amina Zakari in October 2018. Subsequently, a different ad hoc committee was set up specifically for the elections. The ad hoc committee has 17 members, and is headed by Ahmed Tijjani Mu’azu, a retired Air Vice Marshal.
“Making Ibeanu the fall guy for the botched elections is therefore completely wrong. INEC has collective responsibility for the failure.”
The group said the smear campaign would harm “the difficult process of consolidation of Nigerian democracy.”
“This is a clearly orchestrated campaign to smear the names of these people, most of whom have devoted their lives to the struggle against military rule and for democracy for the past three to four decades,” the group said.
“The said campaign is divisive and is geared to smear an ethnic group and present them as enemies of democracy and free and fair elections.”