Rights coalition wants FG to appoint substantive INEC Chairman
A COALITION of civil rights groups, led by the leader of the Human Rights Monitor (HRM), Festus Okoye yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately appoint a substantive National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other Commissioners of the electoral body in order to engage them on the early preparation for the 2019 general election.
Among the rights groups that endorsed a joint statement include, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Centre for Gender Rights Initiatives.
Besides, Okoye cautioned the Federal Government against appointing party loyalists as officials of INEC, saying that doing so will compromise the independence of the electoral Commission.
He wondered why President Buhari has been delaying the appointment of the Commission’s key officials considering that their tenure will lapse on August 11, 2015.
Okoye argued: “the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should think through appointments to the Independent National Electoral Commission and appoint persons with the requisite courage, integrity, pedigree and drive to sustain improvements already made in the institution and lead the charge towards the greater use of technology in the electoral process and making our elections to conform to national and international standards.”
The rights activist, who was also a member of the defunct Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Panel listed the demands of the members of the Civil Rights Coalition, “the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should appoint a substantive Chairman for the Independent National Electoral Commission to begin early preparations for the 2019 elections and drive the process of reforms needed for credible elections in 2019.”
Okoye also urged President Buhari “to appoint the full complement of National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners to fill the vacancies created by the exit of the National Electoral Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners”, while insisting that “the President should exercise due diligence and appoint persons with the requisite courage, competence, ability and expertise to fill the vacant positions created in the Electoral Management Body.”
He added, “the President should in making the appointment bear in mind that the Constitution specifically excludes members of political parties from being appointed into the Electoral Management Body.” Said Okoye: “appointing card carrying members of political parties or persons affiliated with or with sympathy to any of the existing parties will compromise its independence and erode the gains made so far.
If the Acting Chairman of the Commission meets the criteria set by the President, her name should be forwarded to the Senate for confirmation after consultation with the Council of State.
It is important not to leave her in Acting capacity for too long as so doing has its own self imposed limitations and limitations of action.” “We urge political parties, public affairs commentators and other stakeholders not to erode the confidence of the Nigerian people on the electoral management body through comments and utterances that are laced with ethnicity and religion.” “We urge political parties, civil society groups and organizations and the key stakeholders in the polity to lead the drive towards the reform of aspects of the constitution with a bearing on the electoral process and the amendment of sections of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).”