The Federal Government stated on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) will not withdraw the names of certain contentious nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission because of “social media trials.”
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, made the announcement to press shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He also asked Nigerians to let the process play out, including the National Assembly’s forthcoming scrutiny of the REC nominees.
The PUNCH reported that Buhari, on July 26, sent the names of 19 INEC REC nominees to the Senate to be confirmed.
Of the 19, five were reappointed for a second five-year term while 14 others were new appointees.
However, Buhari has come under fire from Nigerians for nominating some individuals believed to be card-carrying members of the All Progressives Congress.
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations noted that the nominee from Sokoto State, Northwestern Nigeria was an APC governorship aspirant in 2015 while another nominee for Enugu State is allegedly a younger sister of the APC Deputy National Chairman, Emma Eneukwu.
Similarly, the CSOs alleged that the nominee for Imo State, Mrs. Pauline Ugochi, who is a former Head of ICT at INEC in Imo is known for conniving with politicians to undermine elections while the nominee for Ebonyi State, Mrs. Queen Agwu, was suspended on allegations of incompetence and corruption in 2016.
The CSOs called for their immediate removal from the list, premising their argument on Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states that “a member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity,’ and Section 14(3b) of the same Schedule which states that “there shall be for each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party.”
But fielding questions on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed said, “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 the 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 even when these people are cleared of any wrongdoings, nobody comes back to apologise to them. So, my advice is, yes, there’ll be allegations against anybody. It does not mean that that fellow is guilty. Let’s wait for the process to be completed.”
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