A Civil Society Organisation, the Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN), says the demand by Adams Oshiomhole, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, for the removal of the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, is a "function of vendetta against the REC over his refusal to bend and do the bidding of the APC, especially in the August 18, 2018 bye-election into the Port Harcourt Constituency III, Rivers State".
The group said the APC as a ruling party should not be seen as sending wrong signals to Nigerians and the international community that it is opposed to free, fair and credible elections.
In a statement in Lagos on Tuesday by its Coordinator, Dr. Chima Ubeku, the SRLN said it was uncharitable for a ruling party to go on national television to single out a REC just because he played prominent role in the refusal of INEC to award it victory in a Rivers State bye-election.
The group noted that in the said election, miscreants and hoodlums, accompanied by heavily-armed security personnel in uniform, stormed the various polling units and registration areas disrupting voting activities, destroying and carting away election materials including smart card readers and ballot boxes as well as injuring many electoral officials.
It said the call for the redeployment of a REC a few days to major elections is nothing but the beginning of a calculated process to rig elections.
The group also called on INEC to disregard the call.
The statement read: "Mike Igini is someone whose integrity and uprightness we as a group can vouch for. He is someone who can never be compromised by anyone and he has demonstrated that on many occasions, the recent being the last year’s botched election into the Port Harcourt Constituency III, Rivers State. Video of his courageous position on the election is online for anyone to see.
"Igini had insisted that election must be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, which will allow voters to vote and leave the centre without grumbling. He described what happened on August 18, 2018 in Rivers State as a tragedy and shameful and highest level of electoral discredit.
"It is on record that since then, the APC never hid its dislike for him (Igini). However, this will not remove the fact that he is one of the few Nigerians that we can close our eyes and recommend to pilot the affairs of INEC, even at the national level.
"It is on record that in 2014, Igini openly criticized the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (at that time) primary elections in Cross River State, describing the primaries as massively fraught with irregularities.
"If the APC is afraid of him as stated on live national television by its National Chairman, it should be obvious to all discerning minds that he (Igini) must have refused to be compromised by the party.
"Calling for his redeployment at this time is therefore misguided, selfish and against the quest by Nigerians for a free, fair and credible elections."