By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos
The Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, has kicked against the confirmation of seven out of 10 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the Nigerian Senate.
On Wednesday, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio announced confirmation of the nomination of the seven RECs after they were cleared through a voice vote at the plenary.
Those cleared by the upper chamber include Etekamba Umoren (Akwa Ibom), Isah Shaka Ehimeakne (Edo), Oluwatoyin Babalola (Ekiti), Abubakar Ahmed Ma’aji (Gombe), Shehu Wahab (Kwara), Mohammed Yelwa (Niger) and Aminu Idris (Nasarawa), with some said to be loyalists of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking to Newsmen, hours after the Senate cleared the nominees, Itodo alleged that some of those confirmed had political affiliations
He faulted the action of the Nigerian Senate, saying Nigerians have complained about the individuals appointed by President Bola Tinubu as RECs into the electoral body.
“Some of those nominees did not meet the constitutional test of non-partisanship because the constitution is very clear – Section 156 as well as paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule,” he said.
“The people we appoint into the electoral commission must not have partisan affiliations. It is public knowledge that some nominees who were confirmed today are not just party members, but they have been seen, there are videos and images to show that these individuals have also campaigned for political parties.”
Similarly, Itodo claimed that politicians were obsessed with securing INEC to give them an advantage at the polls
‘There was one statement that was made today and that was the fact that politicians are interested in capturing INEC so they can secure electoral victory in subsequent elections,” he said.
“How do you expect Nigerians to be confident about the integrity of the electoral commission? if INEC is manned by those with political leanings.”
Earlier, the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) cautioned the Senate against confirming the nominees as RECs over concerns of partisanship.
In a petition jointly signed by 17 CSOs, the coalition specifically asked the upper legislative chamber to reject the Akwa Ibom and Edo States nominees because they are involved in partisan activities.
The petition was sent to the Senate President and the Chairman, of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They also urged President Bola Tinubu to withdraw their nomination in the public interest and appoint other persons following the constitution and the Federal Character Act.