A Coalition Of Domestic And Foreign Election Observers Raise Alarm On The Nomination Of Card Carrying Members Of Political Parties As INEC RECs

demand immediate withdrawal of such names

… raise doubts over electoral process

A coalition of CSOs under the aegis of Democratic Watchdogs of Nigeria has queried the appointment of confirmed card carrying members of a political as Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs by the President Bola Tinubu’s led administration demanding an immediate withdrawal of such names.

This was contained in a letter addressed to the Chief of Staff, CoS, to President Tinubu, President of the Senate, Speaker HoR, INEC chairman, development partners, other critical stakeholders.

The coalition in the letter co-signed by its members declared that to give meaningful interpretations to Nigeria’s electoral process the names of the affected politicians should be dropped immediately.

Going down memory lane of how the immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari played with the psyche of Nigerians by appointing APC card carrying members without due recourse to due process.

Apparently peeved by this development the group in the letter expressly stated that:

“Our Coalition has noted with dismay the recent appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission by the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with utmost respect to the office he is occupying.

Upon our independent verification and fact-finding exercise conducted by our coalition, we unravelled that 4 out of
the 10 appointees are card carrying members of a particular political party, contradicting clearly the provisions of the extant laws as provided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended. In other words, 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 Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party,” section 14, 3(b) states.

“Our coalition hereby raise concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, the risk associated with the appointment of partisan individuals to such sensitive
positions.

“We hereby 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

“As a coalition, we hereby draw attention to the warning issued by former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who criticised the existing laws that empower politicians to appoint top officials of the commission. Mr Jega urged 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.

We hereby warn that 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 Lauretta 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.

Read letter in part below:

The Coalition of Democratic Watchdogs of Nigeria is a Coalition of INEC Accredited Observer Organizations (Foreign and Domestic) who have been collaborating with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Election Observation, Voter Education and Advocacy on Electoral Matters.

Our Coalition has noted with dismay the recent appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission by the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with utmost respect to the office he is occupying. Upon our independent verification and fact-finding exercise conducted by our coalition, we unravelled that 4 out of
the 10 appointees are card carrying members of a particular political party, contradicting clearly the provisions of the extant laws as provided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended. In other words, 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 Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party,” section 14, 3(b) states.

Our coalition hereby raise concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, the risk associated with the appointment of partisan individuals to such sensitive positions.

We hereby 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.

As a coalition, we hereby draw attention to the warning issued by former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who criticised the existing laws that empower politicians to appoint top officials of the commission. Mr Jega urged 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.

We hereby warn that 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 Lauretta 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 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 brutalisation 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.

As we conclude, we call on the President to withdraw the following names:

1. Mr. Etekamba Umoren- Akwa Ibom.

2. Mr. Isah Shaka- Edo State.

3. Omoseyindemi Bunmi- Lagos State.

4. Anugbum Onuoha- Rivers State.

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. We also urge the Senate to reject the confirmation of these persons as confirming them would spell doom to our electoral process and hard-earned democracy and consequently impair on our electoral process.