INEC REC: A’Ibom Stakeholders Accuse Tinubu’s Nominee, Umoren Of Being ‘Partisan’
President Bola Tinubu recently announced the appointment of nine new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, one of the nominees from Akwa Ibom State, Sir Etekamba Umoren, may face challenges in the confirmation process due to concerns about his being partisan.
Tinubu appointed Umoren as the new Akwa Ibom State REC despite his alleged party activities and links to Senate President, Akpabio.
In its statement announcing the appointment, the State House said that Tinubu expected the appointees to abide by the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct in discharging their duties.
However, the President of the Social Democratic Movement (SDM), Dr Akwaowo UdoAkpan, in the company of teeming party members, told journalists at a press conference on Saturday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State that Umoren is a bonafide member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to him: “He has shown his partisan bias towards the All Progressives Congress and Akpabio many times. Section 141 of the Electoral Act 2022 states that: ‘No person holding an elective office to which this Act relates or a registered member of a political party shall be eligible for or be appointed to carry out the duties of a returning officer, an electoral officer, presiding officer or a poll clerk’.
“While all electoral officers can deny being card-carrying members of any political party, a clearly determined partisan allegiance questions the ability of such officers to act transparently while discharging their duties.
“It is also clear that Sir Umoren’s nomination violates section 156(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, which prohibits the appointment of any person who is a member of a political party as a member of INEC. There is evidence suggesting that Sir Umoren is either partisan, politically aligned, or a member of the ruling party, APC,” he added.
He further said: “If confirmed, Sir Umoren’s appointment could compromise the neutrality and impartiality of INEC, leading to increased mistrust in the electoral process. Several reasons have been suggested for rejecting his nomination, including conflict of interest, previous misconduct, partisanship, and lack of public confidence.”
He opined: “In the interest of maintaining a truly independent electoral institution that enjoys the trust and confidence of citizens and stakeholders, it is recommended that President Tinubu reconsider and withdraw Sir Umoren’s nomination immediately.
“Back in 2018, Governor Udom Emmanuel removed Umoren from his position as Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government. Umoren had been described as an ally of APC and Sen. Akpabio. It was Akpabio who appointed Umoren as Secretary to the State Government while he was governor.
“But Sen. Aniete Okon, a PDP chieftain and senator, had claimed that Umoren’s removal had nothing to do with the PDP’s rift with Akpabio at the time.”