Group Asks Senate To Reject ‘Another APC Member’ As INEC Commissioner

The Muhammadu Buhari administration appears hell-bent on planting a faithful of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This comes as President Buhari’s nominee to represent Bayelsa State (South-South) as INEC commissioner has been alleged to be a card-carrying member of the ruling APC.

Recall that the Senate had last year rejected Buhari’s nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC commissioner on the grounds that she is a registered member of the ruling party. Onochie’s appointment had triggered outrage among Nigerians.

Onochie, who is currently Buhari’s personal assistant on social media, had actively campaigned for the president ahead of the 2019 presidential election.

Following her rejection, President Buhari in December 2021 wrote the Senate to seek confirmation of five other national electoral commissioners and a resident electoral commissioner.

One of the new commissioner nominees, Rada Gumus (Bayelsa State, South South), was said to have joined the APC months before her appointment.

The provisions of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution forbids the president from nominating partisan individuals for such a position.

Against this backdrop, the Concerned Nigerians, a human rights, social justice and anti-corruption organisation, wrote the Senate to seek Gumus’ rejection.

In its letter dated January 26 and addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Senate Committee Chairman on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, the group urged the upper legislative chamber to “halt the gradual descent into an irreversible dangerous slope”.

“You will recall that a few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari conveyed the name of Prof Gumusto the Nigeria senate for confirmation as an INEC commissioner. While we recognise Prof. Gumus’sprofessional capabilities, we, however, which to state that her nomination runs contrary to the provisions of Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, which prohibits the appointment of a member of a political party as an Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) commissioner. On March 27, 2021, Prof Gumus registered as a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as evidenced in her annexed APC’s membership card,” read part of the letter signed by the group’s co-convener, Deji Adeyanju, amongst others.

“You will also recall that, in what appears to be a disturbing pattern, a few months ago, President Buhari nominated Ms. Lauretta Onochie as an INEC Commissioner. The nomination was greeted with uproar across the political, religious and civil society divide, as a result of Ms. Onochie documented partisanship.Consequently, we submitted a petition to the National Assembly against her nomination, on the basis of which the National Assembly commendably rejected her nomination.

“However, despite the criticism that trailed Ms. Onochie’s nomination, we are deeply worried to note that the president, has, once again, nominated another card carrying member of the APC, as INEC commissioner. This is a direct threat to the nation’s electoral process and the ultimate security of Nigeria as a democratic nation.

“With the foregoing in mind, we, therefore, strongly urge that Prof. Gumus’ nomination be rejected, on grounds of her obvious partisanship. You may note that Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, states that a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be non-partisan.

“We wish to draw your attention to the fact that elections in Nigeria usually determine, to a large extent, the Nation’s fate. Accordingly, the senate must follow the precedent set in Ms. Onochie’s case by rejecting Prof. Gumus’ nomination. In the light of the foregoing, we hereby request that you take urgent steps to safeguard the nation’s present and future electoral process, by declining the nomination of Prof. Gumus’ as an INEC Commission.”

The group attached copies of Gumus’ APC membership registration card and ward APC register showing her name at no. 27, amongst others, to support its petition.

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