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Senate confirms 19 RECs, says petitions false

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed the 19 Residents Electoral Commissioners sent by the President, Major General  Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The nominees are Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa); Obo Effanga (Cross River); Umar Ibrahim (Taraba); Agboke Olaleke (Ogun); and Samuel Egwu (Kogi), Onyeka Ugochi (Imo); Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto) and  Ayobami Salami from Oyo State.

Others are Zango Abdu (Katsina); Queen Agwu (Ebonyi),  Agundu Tersoo (Benue); Yomere Oritsemlebi (Delta); Yahaya Ibrahim,  (Kaduna); Nura Ali (Kano); Agu Uchenna (Enugu); Ahmed Garki (FCT); Hudu Yunusa (Bauchi); Uzochukwu Chijioke,  (Anambra) and Mohammed Nura (Yobe).

The commissioners were screened precisely a week ago behind the closed door by the senate committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya ( APC Kano South).

Presenting his report,  the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Matters, Senator Kabiru Gaya said, “to determine their suitability for the positions which they were nominated, nominees were asked questions that bothered mostly on partisanship, membership of political parties, and how they hoped to improve the electoral process if and when their nominations for appointments are confirmed”.

The nominees, Gaya said, assured the committee of their non-partisanship, non-membership of any political party, and promised to discharge their responsibilities diligently according to the laid down laws.

He said the committee found no merit in the petitions against four nominees that bordered on alleged membership of political parties, partisanship, compromise and incompetence.

“The committee did due diligence on the petitions by listening to the defence of the nominees and carrying out detailed examination of the petitions to determine the validity or otherwise of the allegations against the four nominees”, Gaya said.

The minority leader, Philip Aduda, then stood up to disagree that he wasn’t sure of the process through which the RECs emerged but he immediately resisted by the chief whip who explained that both he and the minority leader were invited to be a part of the screening and they were both present for the process.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan then confirmed all the 19 commissioners.

Some Civil Society organisations including the Director, of International Press Centre, had kicked against the alleged nomination of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress as commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Auwal Ibrahima Musa Rafsanjani,  described the nomination of the members of the ruling party as electoral commissioners as a strategy to influence the process and outcome of the election in favour of the APC.

The CSOs said the nominee from Sokoto was an APC governorship aspirant in 2015 whilst the nominee for Enugu is alleged to be the younger sister of the APC Deputy National Chairman, South-East.

Likewise, the CSOs said the nominee for Imo, a former Head of ICT at INEC in Imo, is infamous for alleged corruption and connivance with politicians to undermine elections while the nominee for Ebonyi, a former Accountant-General in Ebonyi State, was suspended on allegations of incompetence and corruption in 2016.

In the same vein, the Senate also confirmed Lawan’s townsman, Muhammad  Lamido as Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts for the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency to replace the late Hassan Gambo.

The confirmations were made sequel to the consideration of the reports of the Upstream Petroleum Sector.

Our correspondent who was present at the screening of Lamido on Tuesday by the committee observed that no questions were asked with respect to his competence or expertise. He was asked to introduce himself and the committee in unison confirmed the 61-year-old man.

Lamido was born in Jakuso Local Government Area of Yobe state in 1959.

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