Home Politics Falana to Buhari: Withdraw RECs list from Senate; seek Council of States’ counsel

Falana to Buhari: Withdraw RECs list from Senate; seek Council of States’ counsel

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Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana has said that President Muhammadu Buhari was wrong in sending the list of nominated Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Senate without consulting the Council of States, as required by the Constitution.

He has therefore asked that the list be withdrawn from the Senate.

Since 26 July when the President forwarded the list to the upper chamber of the National Assembly, there have been protests by civil society organisations who alleged that there were partisan and “questionable character” among the nominees.

The CSOs and some concerned Nigerians pointed out that four of the nominees are partisan or have a known history of corruption.

But Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said on Wednesday that the clamour for the withdrawal of the nominees was not a concern for President Buhari.

He challenged the civil society groups and other Nigerians to take the case to the Senate rather than subjecting the current administration to a media trial.

“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 nominees 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”.

But in a statement on Sunday, Falana said the President is mandated to consult the Council of State before submitting names of nominees, in line with the provisions of Section 154(3) of the Constitution.

He added that relevant security agencies were required to investigate the nominees before confirmation.

“Since 2015, President Buhari had consulted the Council of State whenever he wanted to appoint the Chairman and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission including Resident Electoral Commissioners in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 154(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999″, the statement reads.

“On each occasion, the President consulted the Council of State before submitting the names of nominees to the Senate for confirmation in line with Section 154(1) of the Constitution. But for some undisclosed reasons, the President has forwarded the nominations of 14 persons for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners without any prior consultation with the Council of State.

“Apart from the constitutional infraction, the list of the nominees has been challenged on the ground that some of them are card-carrying members of the ruling party. At least two other nominees are alleged to be under investigation for serious electoral malpractice. Instead of subjecting the nominees to integrity tests, the Federal Government has dismissed such grave allegations with a wave of the hand.

“Having repeatedly assured the Nigerian people that the administrators will support INEC to conduct credible elections in 2023, we call on President Buhari to withdraw the controversial list from the Senate and ensure that the nominees are investigated by relevant security agencies.

“After security clearance, the President is advised to comply with Section 154(3) of the Constitution by consulting the Council of State with respect to the qualification and competence of the nominees. It is after the consultation that the names of the nominees that are qualified should be presented to the Senate for confirmation”.

Falana added that the list has been opposed by women groups for not being gender inclusive. He urged the President to ensure gender equality.

“However, in view of the opposition to the list of nominees by a number of women’s groups on grounds of gender discrimination, it is pertinent to draw the attention of the President to the judgment delivered by the Federal High Court on 10 April 2022, in the case of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid & Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/ 2021) wherein the Honourable Justice Donatus Okorowo ordered the Federal Government to comply with the 35 per cent affirmative action for women, which allows women to occupy 35 per cent of all appointments.

“Since the judgment is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria pursuant to Section 287 of the Constitution the President should ensure that the women in the list of nominees should not be less than 35 percent,” he further said.

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