National News

CSO’s Fault Appointment Of New INEC REC’s

At least four of the 19 nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for INEC, either belong to a political party or have been previously indicted for corruption.

This was revealed in an analysis by a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Buhari on 26 July, wrote to the Senate nominating the 19 RECs. He also sought the upper chamber’s confirmation of the nominees.

Of the 19 nominees, five were reappointed for a second and final term of five years while 14 others had new appointments.

The five nominees reappointed are Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa); Obo Effanga (Cross River); Umar Ibrahim (Taraba); Agboke Olaleke (Ogun); and Samuel Egwu (Kogi).

The other 14 nominees are Onyeka Ugochi (Imo); Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto); Ayobami Salami (Oyo); Zango Abdu (Katsina); Queen Elizabeth Agwu (Ebonyi); and Agundu Tersoo (Benue).

Others are: Yomere Oritsemlebi (Delta); Yahaya Ibrahim (Kaduna); Nura Ali (Kano); Agu Uchenna (Enugu); Ahmed Garki (FCT); and Hudu Yunusa (Bauchi);

Also to be confirmed are Uzochukwu Chijioke (Anambra); and Mohammed Nura (Yobe).

The president said the request for confirmation of the nominees was in accordance with the Provisions of Section 154 (1) of the 1999 Constitution Nigeria (as amended).

In a press conference on Friday, the CSOs faulted some of the nominees for being partisan and of questionable past.

In his address, Lanre Arogundade, the Director, International Press Centre, said Muhammad Bashir, the nominee from Sokoto State, was a governorship aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 elections cycle.

Sylvia Agu, the nominee for Enugu State, he said, is believed to be the younger sister of the APC Deputy National Chairman, South-east.

The nominee for Imo State, Pauline Onyeka, who is a former Head of ICT at INEC in Imo state, gained notoriety for alleged corruption and connivance with politicians to undermine elections.

He said Queen-Elizabeth Agwu, a former Accountant-General in Ebonyi State, was suspended allegedly on the grounds of incompetence and corruption in 2016.

The appointments, he noted, have grave implications for the credibility, independence and capacity of INEC to deliver credible, transparent, inclusive and conclusive elections.

Mr Arogundade also said their appointments will significantly undermine the neutrality and impartiality of the Commission and will increase mistrust in Nigeria’s electoral process.

“By the combined effect of Section 156(1(a) and Third Schedule, Part 1, Item F, paragraph 14(1), these individuals are constitutionally prohibited from any appointment as members of INEC.

“It will be against the sacred spirit of the Constitution to accept their nomination. Given their antecedent and close affinity with political parties, it is improbable that they will remain neutral and objective if successfully screened as INEC REC.”

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