Coalition Condemns Appointment of INEC RECs Card Carrying Members

A Coalition of Democratic Watchdogs of Nigeria, an INEC Accredited Observer Organizations (Foreign and Domestic) have noted with dismay the recent appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with utmost respect to the office he is occupying.

According to a co-signed statement by the Domestic Observers, Princewill Michael and Markatso Ramatubele made available to Channel Network Afrique, CNA, the Coalition noted that its independent verification and fact-finding exercise conducted unravelled that 4 out of the 10 appointees are card carrying members of a particular political party which clearly contradicts the provisions of the extant laws as provided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

In other words, the group clarified that the appointment of card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as RECs runs contrary to the third schedule to the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, which prohibits partisan appointments into INEC.

The third schedule to the Nigerian 1999 Constitution prohibits the appointment of a partisan person into INEC in Item F, paragraph 14.

“There shall be for each State of the Federa on and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unques onable integrity and shall not be a member of any poli cal party,” sec on 14, 3(b) states. The Statement noted.

The Group however called on President Bola Tinubu to withdraw the appointment of; Etekamba Umoren (Akwa Ibom State), Isah Shaka (Edo State) , Omoseyindemi Bunmi (Lagos State), Anugbum Onuoha (Rivers State, alleging that the above persons are card carrying members of the APC and appointing them as RECs in INEC amounts to an apparent contradiction of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The coalition while raising concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, the risk associated with the appointment of partisan individuals to such sensitive positions, express fears that such appointments could compromise the independence and impartiality of the electoral commission (INEC), leading to biased, unfair and unjust elections in Nigeria.

The group further drew attention to the warning issued by former INEC chairman, Prof. Atahiru Jega, who criticized the existing laws that empower politicians to appoint top officials of the commission, urging that the appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners should be divested from the president and given to the Commission at INEC, with the power to hire and fire.

“The track record of former President Muhammadu Buhari, who repeatedly nominated partisan individuals and persons with integrity issues as INEC RECs, drawing widespread criticism from civil society organisations and members of the public.
A good example was the appointment of Laureta Onochie, a known member of the APC, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate in 2021, and the case of Olalekan Raheem, a member of the APC, whose nomination was rejected in 2017 for being a card-carrying member of the party”. The statement added.

The statement also noted that the appointment of partisan individuals as RECs could lead to chaos and violence during elections as exhibited by former Adamawa REC, Hudu Ari, in the conduct of the 2023 Governorship Elections in Adamawa State who illegally announced a winner in the state’s governorship election, leading to chaos across the state and brutalization of a National Commissioner of the commission, Abdullahi Zuru.

The coalition notes that until the latest amendment of the Electoral Act in 2022, the REC’s pronouncement may have been binding.

They however urged the Senate to reject the confirmation of those card carrying members as confirming them would spell doom to the electoral process and hard-earned democracy and consequently impair on the electoral process.

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