Leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said it would be unconstitutional to remove Professor Attahiru Jega as Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In a statement entitled Thoughts on Rumoured Termination of Professor Attahiru Jega, Mr. Gbajabiamila said: “In the last few days, we have been inundated with speculation about the possible termination of Jega’s appointment as INEC Chairman.
“This may be unfounded, but may also have a basis in truth because you just cannot put anything past this government.
“From a legal standpoint, I do not think any such attempt can pass constitutional muster.
Firstly, I do not consider the INEC Chairman as a civil servant subject to civil service rules same way I, a member of the House of Representatives, am not a civil servant.
“INEC and its Chairman are a creation of the constitution.
“Their operations, rules and regulations are as provided under Sections 156 and 160 of the Nigerian Constitution, which expressly states that only INEC has the powers to regulate its own procedures and cannot be subject to approval of the President or any other authority, thereby establishing its independence.
“Secondly, ‘terminal leave’ is a form of removal whichever way you cut or slice it and Section 157 of the Constitution is very clear that the removal of INEC Chairman can only be initiated by two thirds of the Senate and not by the President.
The question of who is a civil servant is answered in Section 171 of the constitution and the Chairman INEC is not included.
Finally, it will be a violation of Section 1 of the Code of Conduct as embedded in Part 1 of the fifth schedule to the constitution to appoint Professor Mimiko, brother to a PDP governor, if the rumours are indeed true, as INEC Chairman.
“There is an inherent conflict of interest and that will never fly.”
The section I just referred to states:
“a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities “ This government needs to start thinking for once!!