Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his “leadership position to urgently withdraw the names of nominees recently submitted to the Senate for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who are allegedly members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
According to reports, the president had on 26 July sent to the Senate the names of 19 resident electoral commissioners for confirmation. At least four of the 19 nominees allegedly either belong to a political party or have been previously indicted for corruption.
In a letter dated 3 September 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said;
The combined effect of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act and international standards is the requirement that elections must be organized by a truly independent and impartial electoral body.”
Withdrawing the names of those nominees who are allegedly members of the APC, and replacing them with people of unquestionable integrity and competence, and who are not members of any political party would improve the independence of INEC and promote public confidence in the appointment process.
The organisation further explained that the Federal Goverment is responsible for the promotion of the integrity, credibility, and independence of INEC, and to ensure that the electoral body is free from political and other interferences
The letter, read in part;
As its name suggests, INEC is expected to maintain independence or absolute neutrality. INEC must not only be independent and impartial, but must also be seen to be independent and impartial.
Promoting the independence of INEC, including by appointing people of unquestionable integrity and competence, and who are not members of any political party as RECs would be entirely consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and your oft-stated promise to ensure free and fair elections in 2023.
The will of the people is expressed through democratic elections. This requires that elections must be free, fair, legitimate and credible. However, the credibility and legitimacy of elections depend in part on the integrity and competence of the body conducting the process, and the transparency of the appointment process for RECs.
We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in acting to withdraw the names of those nominated for confirmation as RECs, and who are allegedly members of the APC.
We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.