Adamawa gov election crisis and INEC commissioners’ appointment

The long-awaited 2023 general election may have come and gone but the aftermath of the exercise is likely to leave a lasting impression in the minds of Nigerians.

Given the assurances given by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the huge resources spent on the procurement of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, allowances paid to security personnel and ad hoc staff engaged by the during the exercise, among others; many Nigerians expected a credible exercise devoid of manipulation and avoidable irregularities.

Concerns were raised about INEC’s failure to upload polling unit results in the February 25 presidential election, in addition to the bypassing of BVAS in some polling units. Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the presidential contenders for the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, respectively, have already filed election petitions on the basis of that result upload issue. In general, they appear to be contesting INEC’s designation of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the next president.

The drama surrounding the collation of the supplementary election in Adamawa State, where the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, usurped the authority of the Returning Officer, Prof. Mohammed Mele, by declaring Aishatu Dahiru, also known as Binani, the winner of the election while the supplementary polls were still being counted, has been cited by some as the biggest embarrassment of the process.

Since then, INEC has suspended Yunusa-Ari, and more and more people are calling for his prosecution. However, it was unknown where he was when this report was submitted.

Despite Yunusa-Ari’s disturbing behavior, he wasn’t the first INEC official to engage in such irregular behavior. Prof. Peter Ogban was found guilty of rigging the state’s elections in favor of the APC, and a high court in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State, sentenced him to three years in prison in 2021. In the 2019 election for the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Ogban served as the returning officer.

In the run-up to the 2023 elections, a group of over 70 civil society organizations, united under the banner of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, requested that the Senate Committee on INEC reject the president’s partisan nominees for the position of resident electoral commissioner, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).

The CSOs stated in a joint statement that “Appointments into INEC have grave consequences for the integrity, independence, and competence of the commission to conduct credible, transparent, inclusive, and conclusive elections. In order to safeguard the impartiality, objectivity, and nonpartisanship of INEC, the constitution specifies the requirements and process for appointments.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution’s Section 156(1)(a) expressly forbids the nomination of any individual who belongs to a political party as a member of INEC.

The constitution explicitly states in the Third Schedule, Part 1, Item F, paragraph 14 (1) that commissioners must be non-partisan and people of unquestioned integrity in order to further maintain the impartiality of INEC members. President Buhari claims in his letter to the Senate that the request for the candidates’ confirmation was made in compliance with Section 154 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution. Our research and analysis show the opposite.

“Some of the President’s candidates fall short of the constitutional requirements for impartiality and unassailable honesty. There is a ton of proof that several of the nominees are either partisan, politically affiliated, or have been charged with wrongdoing in the past. Prof. Muhammad Lawal Bashir of Sokoto, for example, stood for governor in 2015 as a member of the All Progressives Congress. The candidate for Enugu state, Mrs. Syl Uchenna Agu, is thought to be the younger sister of the APC Deputy National Chairman, South-East.

The Ahmad Lawan-led ninth Senate proceeded with the confirmation despite the reasons being so plainly stated, with some of them taking the customary bow in the Red Chamber.

However, it wasn’t the first time presidents had tried to appoint partisan individuals to INEC by blatantly flouting constitutional provisions.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s nominees for appointment as RECs were rejected in 2011 by the Action Congress of Nigeria, one of the founding parties of the APC. Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party’s national publicity secretary and current minister of information and culture, blasted the Jonathan administration for the nominations.

Mohammed claimed in a statement on August 8, 2011, that Jonathan had misled Nigerians who had counted on him to conduct the election with integrity and honesty.

“Nigerians had expected that the President would have caused the vacant posts of the RECs to be advertised and the names of those shortlisted to be published so Nigerians can scrutinize them before they are interviewed and the successful ones among them appointed,” he had said in the statement.

Instead, the President decided to continue using the outdated, ineffective method of hand-picking PDP supporters and members. This is incorrect and raises concerns about the President’s dedication to his purported change plan.

The nominees were later replaced by Jonathan.

Interestingly, Mohammed, who criticized Jonathan, defended Buhari for upholding the constitution in the same way by choosing people with political links.

In response to a question about why nominations were not withdrawn in September 2022, the government referred to the criticism of the nominees as a media trial and said, “As for the nominees who are being challenged by social media warriors and some critics, I don’t think it is the business of the President to immediately throw out the nominees based on allegations which have not been proven.

“I believe the entire plan is for these individuals to seek confirmation in the National Assembly, where the same inquiries that are being made in the public sphere would be made. This media trial concerns me a lot because, even after these individuals are exonerated of all charges, no one contacts them to offer an apology. So, yes, there will be accusations made against anyone, is my advice. That individual is not necessarily guilty. Let’s wait until the procedure is finished.

Typical of the Lawan’s Red Chamber, despite the questions made about the nominees’ impartiality, they were approved. Even Lauretta Onochie’s nomination for National Commissioner of INEC was rejected by the Senate due to a federal character principle, in which case there was another commissioner from her home state of Delta State who was already serving.

Therefore, the opposition’s concerns about her affiliation with the ruling APC were not the reason the Senate decided not to confirm her. She had been Buhari’s special assistant on social media up to that point.

The 2007 Justice Mohammed Uwais Report, which included a call for an amendment to the 1999 Constitution to shield INEC from the maneuvering of the executive arm of government, particularly its funding and composition, included a recommendation to avoid the appointment of RECs and other INEC officials who are partisan in order to promote credible and transparent elections.

The Uwais panel proposed that the National Judicial Council be given the authority to choose INEC board members instead of the Office of the President, with money for the commission coming from the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation in the first instance.

Other recommendations made by the Uwais Panel included “that no elected person should assume office.”

until the tribunal or court case against them is resolved; amending the constitution to name a single date for the presidential and governorship elections, which must take place at least six months before the current holders of the offices expire; and amending the constitution to name a single date for the National and State Assembly elections, which must take place two years after the presidential and governorship elections.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mike Ozekhome urged for a constitutional amendment to allow the National Council of State to pick the head of INEC.

The President’s sole authority to nominate INEC Chairman, National Returning Officers, and RECs must be transferred to the National Council of State, according to Ozekhome. “The Senate is required to approve this. The Chairman, National Commissioners, and RECs are not currently independent. They tend to lean in the direction of the president, the appointor. They are in no way independent. The music is set by the one who pays the piper.

This continues to be a threat to the integrity of the electoral process, particularly when appointments are influenced by political party interests, election-winning strategies, and a pervasive patronage structure. The results of the general elections in 2023 suggest that the appointment procedure needs to be reviewed, and it may be worthwhile to examine.

The Uwais report’s proposal in order to look for ways to guarantee that only nonpartisan citizens with the necessary qualifications be appointed. This can include a more competitive application process with open guidelines regarding the necessary capacity, character, and neutrality for these positions.

Golden2022 (

More Reading

Post navigation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *