The Appointment of INEC RECs: A Concern for Democracy
The Coalition of Democratic Watchdogs of Nigeria is a coalition of organizations that work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe elections, educate voters, and advocate for fair electoral practices.
We are deeply concerned about the recent appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for INEC by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Our coalition conducted an independent investigation and found that 4 out of the 10 appointees are card-carrying members of a particular political party. This goes against the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, which prohibits partisan appointments into INEC.
The third schedule to the Nigerian Constitution clearly states that RECs should be individuals of unquestionable integrity and should not be members of any political party. The appointment of card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as RECs contradicts this provision.
We are concerned about the integrity of the electoral process and the risks associated with appointing partisan individuals to sensitive positions. Such appointments could compromise the independence and impartiality of INEC, leading to biased and unfair elections in Nigeria.
We urge the President to reconsider these appointments and withdraw the names of the following individuals who are card-carrying members of the APC:
- Mr. Etekamba Umoren – Akwa Ibom
- Mr. Isah Shaka – Edo State
- Omoseyindemi Bunmi – Lagos State
- Anugbum Onuoha – Rivers State
Appointing these individuals as RECs in INEC goes against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and poses a threat to our democracy and electoral process.
We must learn from the mistakes of the past. Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominations of individuals with integrity issues as INEC RECs drew widespread criticism. For example, the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, a known member of the APC, was rejected by the Senate in 2021. Similarly, Olalekan Raheem’s nomination was rejected in 2017 for being a card-carrying member of the party.
Appointing partisan individuals as RECs can lead to chaos and violence during elections. We witnessed this in the conduct of the 2023 Governorship Elections in Adamawa State, where the former Adamawa REC, Hudu Ari, illegally announced a winner, resulting in chaos and the brutalization of a National Commissioner of the commission. Until the latest amendment of the Electoral Act in 2022, the pronouncements of RECs held significant weight.
We call on the President to reconsider these appointments and prioritize the integrity and independence of INEC. We also urge the Senate to reject the confirmation of these individuals. It is crucial to protect our electoral process and uphold our hard-earned democracy.
1. Princewill Michael (For Domestic Observers)
2. Madam D Markatso Ramatubele
Chief of Staff to the President and C-IN-C
The Senate President
The Speaker, House of Representatives
The Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC
The Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters
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