By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, says the problems the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are facing in conducting credible elections would be complicated by the appointment of members of political parties as Resident Electoral Officers.
Falana, who spoke to Newsmen, was commenting on the newly-appointed INEC RECs confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday, some of whom were alleged to be members of political parties.
“Successive regimes in Nigeria, Yar’Adua’s regime, Jonathan’s regime, and Buhari’s regime have all set up electoral reform committees or panels to make recommendations that will assist the government to have credible elections.
“In the case of President Tinubu as a leader of the CAN, he set up a committee for electoral reforms to campaign for the implementation of the recommendations of the Uwais Panel and one of them is that we must have independent umpires in every material particular.
“You can’t have a card-carrying member of a political party or a loyalist of a political party to be a Resident Electoral Commissioner or a national commissioner; you complicate the problem for INEC to have credible elections,” Falana said.
Following the appointment of 10 new RECs for INEC by President Tinubu, Civil Society Organisations and some other Nigerians raised alarm about some of the appointees, who were said to have political affiliations, asking the Senate not to confirm them. However, the Senate confirmed all the nominees as RECs.
Falana, who said three of the appoints are members of the All Progressives Congress while one is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, condemned their confirmation by the Senate.
He said the PDP in Akwa Ibom State has gone to court to challenge the appointment of Mr Etekamba Umoren, who was a former Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, an APC chieftain in Akwa Ibom State as the REC for the state.
According to the SAN, the appointment of three other RECs should be challenged in court. He also added that if the courts prove that these appointments are illegal, then their Senate confirmation cannot legitimize them.