Buhari won’t withdraw alleged APC members, corrupt persons nominated as RECs – FG

THE Federal Government said on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari will not withdraw some nominees for appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) based on what it described as “social media allegations”.

Buhari forwarded the names of 19 INEC REC nominees to the Senate for confirmation on July 26.

Five out of 19 were reappointed for a second term, while 14 others were new appointees.


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A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) had alleged that some of the nominees forwarded by the President to the National Assembly for the appointment are card-carrying members of political parties and persons indicted for corruption.

The CSOs said evidence abounds that some of the President’s nominees were either partisan, politically aligned, or previously indicted for corruption.

Specifically, the CSOs said: “Muhammad Lawal Bashir from Sokoto was a governorship aspirant under the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2015 elections cycle; Sylvia Uchenna Agu, the nominee for Enugu State, was believed to be the younger sister of the APC Deputy National Chairman, South-East.

“The nominee for Imo State, Mrs. Pauline Onyeka Ugochi, a former Head of ICT at INEC in Imo State, gained notoriety for alleged corruption and connivance with politicians to undermine elections. Mrs. Queen Elizabeth Agwu, a former Accountant-General of Ebonyi State, was suspended allegedly on the grounds of incompetence and corruption in 2016.”

The CSOs noted that their nomination contravened Section 156(1)(a) of the amended 1999 Constitution and would have grave implications for the INEC’s credibility, independence and capacity to deliver credible, transparent, inclusive and conclusive elections.

However, responding to the allegations after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House on Wednesday, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said Buhari will not withdraw the nominations.

The minister asked those kicking against the nomination of the RECs to take their case to the Senate.

Mohammed insisted that the 2023 general elections will be free, fair and credible.

“There is no basis for anyone to express doubt that the 2023 general elections will not be free, fair and credible. Mr President has been clear on this and that will not change in the 2023 general elections.

“And these could be seen in the governorship elections in Edo, Anambra and Ekiti states and recently in Osun State where the incumbent governor lost the election. Mr President has lived up to his commitment to free and fair elections and I’m sure the same will apply come 2023.”

He added that the President cannot immediately throw out nominees based on mere allegations.






     

     

    “As to the nominees that are being challenged by social media warriors and by some critics, I don’t think it is the business of the President to immediately throw out a nominee based on allegations which have not been proven.

    “I think the whole idea is that these people will go for confirmation in the National Assembly. The same questions that are being raised in the public domain will be asked there.

    “I think this media trial is quite worrisome because when these people are cleared of any wrongdoing, nobody comes back to apologise to them.

    “So, my advice is that there will be allegations made against anyone but it does not mean that that fellow is guilty. Let’s wait for the process to be completed,” the minister said.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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