Falana challenges Tinubu over INEC appointments

Written by on November 4, 2023

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Mr Femi Falana has condemned the appointment of partisan politicians as Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs, urging President Bola Tinubu to fulfil his promise to ensure a credible electoral process.

Speaking on a morning show on Channels Television Friday, Falana asked stakeholders to legally challenge four new RECs who he said are card-carrying members of two political parties.

He said: “Since 1999, we have had this terrible experience of a ruling party trying to populate the electoral body with party loyalists and sympathizers, and that was what led to the amendment of the constitution.

“It might interest you to note that the APC and the CSOs were completely against the appointment of members of the ruling party, that is, the PDP then.

“As a matter of fact, the bitter experience of our country led the Muhammadu Uwais panel to recommend that the chairmen or the chairpersons, national commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners RECS of INEC be appointed by advertisements. In other words, you invite candidates who would like to serve the nation at that level and then the National Judicial Council NJC was recommended to shortlist the best three and then send to the Senate via the Council of State because the council is required to advise the president on the choice of electoral chiefs but that was not adopted by both the PDP and the APC.

“With regards to the last appointment, the last had not been said about it. It has been shown without any challenge that four out of the ten RECs recently appointed by the president and who have now been asked to take a bow, as it were, in the Senate are card-carrying members of a political parties. Three of them are APC members while the fourth one is a member of the PDP”.

Noting that the PDP in Akwa Ibom has gone to court to challenge the appointment of the REC from the state, Falana urged other stakeholders to also go to court to challenge the other three, saying once an appointment is illegal, no legislative confirmation can legitimize it.

“We must begin the commitment to have credible elections in 2027. The shame of bad elections in Nigeria must stop and President Tinubu owes us a duty not only to encourage INEC to conduct credible elections but he must also ensure that his promise to have credit elections in Nigeria is fulfilled.

“Successive regimes in Nigeria, Yar’Adua’s regime, Jonathan’s regime, and Buhari’s regime have all set up electoral reform committees or panels to make recommendations that will assist the government to have credible elections.

“In the case of President Tinubu as a leader of the ACN, he set up a committee for electoral reforms to campaign for the implementation of the recommendations of the Uwais Panel, and one of them is that we must have independent umpires in every material particular.

Falana said. “You can’t have a card-carrying member of a political party or a loyalist of a political party to be a Resident Electoral Commissioner or a national commissioner; you complicate the problem for INEC to have credible elections,”

He said the Senate had on between Wednesday and Thursday, confirmed 10 RECs recently appointed by President Tinubu but Falana said that the courts can still address the issue. “The Senate has cleared them but it is not over yet,” he said.

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