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Kabiru Gaya: Why senate approved REC nominees despite allegations of political bias

Kabiru Gaya: Why senate approved REC nominees despite allegations of political bias
October 07
08:00 2022

Kabiru Gaya, chairman of the senate committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has explained why the senate approved the nominees for resident electoral commissioners (RECs) despite petitions. 

Gaya spoke on Friday during an interview with Channels Television.

In July, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the senate to confirm 19 nominees as INEC RECs, some of whom were reappointed.

However, some civil society organisations (CSOs) alleged that some nominees “are partisan and have questionable character”.

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Despite petitions against some of the nominations, on Wednesday, the senate approved the nominees after Gaya presented a committee report at plenary.

Explaining why the senate approved the nominees despite petitions, Gaya said the contents of the petitions were not enough to stop the senate from approving the list.

The Kano senator cited the example of a nominee from Sokoto — Muhammad Lawal Bashir — who contested the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 but lost.

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He added that the nominee left politics after losing because he was frustrated, and returned to lecturing.

Asked if it is morally right to approve a nominee who had been an aspirant, the senator said the law stipulates that only “serving members” cannot be appointed as INEC RECs.

“We had 19 nominees. There were petitions on four of those nominees. Five of them were returned by the president for the second term,” he said.

“Therefore, those five nominees went through our screening earlier and they were confirmed by the senate.

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“Then the other 10 are just new members, who had no petition against them. The remaining four, there were petitions.

“We had to look at those petitions critically to see whether they are qualified to remain as members of INEC or we screen them out.

“We went through the petitions. I could remember one of the nominees from Benue. There were about six petitions on him and when we went through the petitions on him, they all had the same so-called proof of evidence.

“One of them is his purported membership card. They said that person registered in PDP in 2020 and the membership card was signed by Ayu. The photocopy of the membership card was signed by Ayu, which is not possible. Ayu was not a chairman in 2020.

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“The other one, the lady from Ebonyi state, said she worked as a government staff of Ebonyi and she rose to the rank of chief of staff.

“She left the office; that does not mean we should not screen her. Even the government of Ebonyi wrote to recommend her on the job that she did when she was in service.”

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