1 February 2013

Nigeria: Threat of Arrest - Jega Explains Absence to House

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Thursday explained why he did not honour the invitation of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, blaming it on communication gaps.

The House of Representatives had Wednesday threatened to arrest the INEC Chairman for not honouring its invitation to appear before it.

But Jega in a letter to the chairman of House Committee on Public Accounts, explained why he did could not appear before the lawmakers.

The INEC Chairman is expected to appear before the committee on to explain the expenditures of the commission between 2003 and 2011, following the queries raised by the Auditor General of the Federation on INEC's accounts, within the period under review.

Dr. Abel Guobadia completed the tenure of Justice Ephriam Akpata in 2005 and Prof. Maurice Iwu who was appointed as INEC chairman was the chairman of the commission till 2010 when Jega assumed office.

The probe by the House will look into the expenditures of the commission under three chairmen.

According to Jega in a letter dated January 31 2013, "My failure to respond to your committee's invitation was wholly unintended and regrettable. I had travelled out of the country for a while and only returned to office early this week; and there was apparently a communication gap that made me unaware of the invitation to appear before the honourable committee on Wednesday.

"I learnt from the media this morning that your honourable committee has resolved to issue an arrest warrant on me, following my failure to appear before it at its scheduled sitting on Wednesday, January 30, 2013.

"The resolution, obviously, was borne out of the anger of committee members over my unfortunate absence at the Wednesday sitting. It is, thus, perfectly understandable," Jega said in the letter.

The INEC Chairman said he has no reason or intention to be disrespectful to the committee, or to shun its summons, promising that he would ensure to be readily available at the next scheduled sitting.

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