Daily Trust

Yakubu’s fate hangs in the balance

- By Ismail Mudashir, Abdullatee­f Salau, Abbas Jimoh, Saawua Terzungwe, Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja) & Victor Sorokwu (Asaba)

The fate of the Chairman of the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is hanging in the balance following the exclusion of his name in President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to the Senate for confirmati­on of commission­ers of the electoral body.

Yakubu’s name was conspicuou­sly missing on the president’s letter to the Senate seeking the confirmati­on of four persons as national commission­ers of the commission. The letter, dated October 12, 2020, was read during plenary by Senate President Ahmad Lawan yesterday.

By explicitly excluding his name, analysts believed that President Buhari had sent a strong signal of likely dropping Yakubu as INEC chairman.

The letter to the Senate reads: “Pursuant to Paragraph 14 of Part I (F) of the Third Schedule to the Constituti­on of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, I hereby forward for confirmati­on by the Senate, the appointmen­t of the following four (4) Commission­ers for the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The nominees listed by the President are: Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (commission­er), Katsina; Lauretta Onochie, presidenti­al aide on social media (commission­er), Delta; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (commission­er), Ekiti; and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Resident Electoral Commission­er), Jigawa.

The president’s nomination came five days after Daily Trust published an exclusive story on the looming vacuum at the commission. The fiveyear tenure of Yakubu and five national commission­ers would lapse on November 9, and could get a second term if the president so wish.

Daily Trust recalled that Professor Yakubu was swornin alongside five national commission­ers; Mrs Amina Bala Zakari (Jigawa) North West; Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (Kogi), North Central; Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (Borno), North East; Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (Edo), SouthSouth and Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi (Ogun), South West.

‘There is serious confusion’

A top INEC source told Daily Trust there was an apparent confusion in the names forwarded to the Senate by President Buhari.

The source who does not want to be named said, “There appears to be some confusion here. Only one national commission­er is going for now from the North West, Hajiya Amina, but apparently two names were submitted from there.

“One should also be going from North Central but none was submitted from there,” he said.

He also said Buhari’s silence on Prof. Yakubu had left people in the dark.

“My understand­ing is if you are giving a member an extension, his name would still need to go through the same process as the first time.”

Onochie can’t commission­er minority caucus -


INEC Senate

The Senate minority caucus has kicked against the nomination of Onochie as INEC national commission­er.

Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said by nominating his aide, President Buhari has “wilfully gone against the constituti­on” and urged the president to withdraw the nomination.

“Item F, Paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constituti­on (as amended) forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC. The minority caucus of the Senate is against this nomination and calls on Mr President to withdraw it,” he said. However, Senator Kabir Barkiya (APC, Katsina), said there was nothing wrong in Buhari’s nomination­s.

He said: “The nomination­s were in order except if the constituti­on says otherwise. If the constituti­on allows the president to nominate his aide for INEC job, then the outcry is not necessary. But if it is against the constituti­on, we will reject the nomination.”

On his part, a three-time member of the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye asked Buhari to rescind the nomination of Onochie.

Melaye, who lost his bid to return to the Senate in 2019, described the nomination as unconstitu­tional, an affront on the patience of Nigerians and an insult to the institutio­n of INEC.

“She is biased as a member of the APC, hence this is an affront on the patience of Nigerians and insult to the electoral umpire as an institutio­n,” he said.

It’s assault on democracy PDP

Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described Onochie’s nomination as a highly provocativ­e assault on the nation’s constituti­on and democratic process.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiy­an, alleged that Onochie is a card-carrying member of the ruling APC.

The PDP said it would deploy every legitimate means possible in a democracy to stop the approval of the nomination of Onochie as INEC national commission­er.

“Indeed, from Mr. President’s public promises, one would have thought that he was desirous of leaving a legacy of credible elections, having failed in all ramificati­ons of governance

“However, this nomination of his personal staff, Lauretta Onochie, as INEC national commission­er, supports the position of the PDP that his statements were mere glib talks on electoral sanctity and clearly demonstrat­es that he has no plans whatsoever to leave a legacy of credible polls,” the opposition party said.

“This ugly developmen­t is another shameful attempt to plant unscrupulo­us elements in INEC to corrupt and further desecrate the sanctity of the commission, undermine our electoral system and destabilis­e our democratic process ahead of the 2023 general elections,” it added.

INEC’s spokesman was PDP member - APC

Reacting, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena asked PDP leaders to tell Nigerians whether the INEC spokesman was not a member of the PDP.

“What is the PDP talking about? Is the INEC spokesman not a member of the PDP?

“Has Lauretta Onochie contested any election on the platform of the APC?” he queried.

70 CSOs ask Buhari Onochie


Also lending its voice to the controvers­y, the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room yesterday kicked against the nomination of Onochie as national commission­er.

The Situation Room, which is a coalition of 70 Civil Society

Organizati­ons (CSOs) in Nigeria, maintained that the 1999 Constituti­on, as amended, forbade the appointmen­t of a partisan politician as a member of INEC.

In a statement signed by its Convener, Mr Clement Nwankwo, the Situation Room called for an immediate withdrawal of her nomination.

“Her nomination amounts to a major attempt at underminin­g efforts to build credibilit­y for an improved electoral process in the country.

“Situation Room calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediatel­y withdraw her nomination. Should the President fail to withdraw this nomination the Nigerian Senate is hereby called upon to disregard her nomination without any considerat­ion whatsoever.

“Situation Room is also calling on the Nigerian Senate to investigat­e all of the other nomination­s by the President especially as there are concerns that some of these nomination­s may have been by self-serving interests.

“It is important for Nigeria that the compositio­n of INEC is transparen­tly non-partisan and independen­t of partisan political manipulati­on”, the statement said.

Lawyers speak

Speaking on the nomination of Onochie, Obioma Ezenwobodo, said, “As an APC member, Lauretta Onochie is not qualified to be an INEC commission­er.

“This is against Section 156(1)(a) of 1999 Constituti­on (as amended) that bars a card-carrying member of a political party from being an INEC member. INEC neutrality and non-partisansh­ip are sacrosanct,” he said.

On his part, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh, said, “I cannot speculate at this stage without evidence that her membership with the APC would hinder her official functions in her new appointmen­t as INEC’s national commission­er.”

One of our correspond­ents report that Onochie, a diehard supporter of Buhari and one of the key drivers of the Buhari Support Organisati­ons (BSO) in Delta State, recently donated a building to the APC in her hometown of Onicha-Olona as the LGA APC Secretaria­t.

 ??  ?? Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
 ??  ?? Lauretta Onochie
Lauretta Onochie

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