Disquiet over legality of Zakari conducting Kogi, Bayelsa polls

Mrs Amina Zakari as acting chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mrs Amina Zakari as acting chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

AS Kogi and Bayelsa states prepare for governorship elections in November 21 and December 3 respectively, there is palpable disquiet in legal and political circles over the constitutionality of the acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari, conducting the polls for which preparations have reached advanced stages.

Zakari was appointed from her position as a National Commissioner of INEC to replace former Chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Atahiru Jega, whose tenure ended on June 30, 2015 in acting capacity.

While the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the appointment of Zakari, claiming that she has “enough strong relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari” to put her independence and integrity to question on the conduct of the two elections, some lawyers have argued that the nation’s Constitution does not recognise the position she occupies, and if allowed to conduct the polls, the validity of the exercises may be questioned.

The PDP spokesman, Olisa Metuh, alleged that Zakari was “appointed to conduct the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The INEC boss who was alleged to be an in-law of Buhari has, however, denied any “strong relationship” with the President, while the electoral body said there would not be any illegality in any election she conducts in acting capacity.

Although Zakari’s confirmation as the substantive Chairman of INEC by the Senate is still possible before the Kogi State’s election, provided her name is forwarded by the President, there are fears that the strong opposition of the PDP in the Upper Chamber, which could even extend its period of recess, may deny her the needed clearance.

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