Ahead of the 2023 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to withdraw alleged members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project made the call in a statement issued on Sunday by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
Channels Television had reported how President Buhari in a letter to the Senate on July 25, requested the confirmation of the 19 RECs for the Independent National Electoral Commission.
But the rights group stated that at least four of the 19 nominees allegedly either belonged to a political party or had been previously indicted for corruption.
SERAP, therefore, wants Buhari to use his “leadership position to urgently withdraw the names of nominees recently submitted to the Senate for confirmation as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission who are allegedly members of the All Progressives Congress.”
According to the group, the combined effect of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act and international standards is the requirement that elections must be organised by a truly independent and impartial electoral body.
“Withdrawing the names of those nominees who are allegedly members of the APC, and replacing them with people of unquestionable integrity and competence, and who are not members of any political party would improve the independence of INEC and promote public confidence in the appointment process,” the statement read.
“As its name suggests, INEC is expected to maintain independence or absolute neutrality. INEC must not only be independent and impartial, but must also be seen to be independent and impartial.
“Promoting the independence of INEC, including by appointing people of unquestionable integrity and competence, and who are not members of any political party as RECs would be entirely be consistent with your constitutional oath of office, and your oft-stated promise to ensure free and fair elections in 2023.
“INEC ought to be independent and impartial in the exercise of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”
The Buhari-led government, SERAP argued, has a legal responsibility to promote and guarantee the integrity, credibility, and independence of INEC, and to ensure that the electoral body is free from political and other interferences.