By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKAâ€”THE International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law has reminded President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as presently constituted was faulty, saying there is need to appoint more national commissioners to meet the constitutional provisions for the operations of the Commission.
Chairman of the society, Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, in a statement in Awka, alleged that even the remaining number of national commissioners did not meet the federal character constitutional requirement, adding that there was the need to correct the anomaly.
â€œBy the provisions of the 1999 constitution, INEC ought to have 13 national Commissioners and a Secretary, who must be a career civil servant. But as at date, only four national Commissioners are left as members of the Commissionâ€™s top management team. Most of the said national Commissioners left the Commission between August 2008 and April 2009 as a result of the expiration of their five years mandatory term,” he said.
â€œThose who left in August 2008 are Commissioners Ekpenyong Nsa, Mohammed Abubakar, Esther Sallah, Setley Dadze, Mohammed Bello, Olorunnibe Farunkanmi and Ishmael Igbani, while Dr. Mohammed Jumare reportedly completed his term of office in April 2009.
The four remaining national Commissioners areÂ Prof Maurice Iwu, Chief Victor Chukwuani, Mr Philip Umeadi (Jnr.) and Mr. Solomon Soyebi, in addition to Alhaji Abdullahi Kaigama, the Commissionâ€™s Secretary, who is notÂ a national Commissioner.
â€œYour Excellency may recall that we had earlier written requesting, respectfully among others, for total overhauling of the Commission. We further requested for the removal of Prof Maurice Iwu, on the strength of popular demands for his immediate sack over alleged gross misconduct. Sadly, the letter suffered a Nigerian blow. The reorganisation of INEC and its proper re-constitution is constitutionally mandatory.
â€œSimilarly, our investigations showed that other federal agencies created by Section 153(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, have their full membership complete as stipulated by relevant constitutional provisions. Also Your Excellency, the present composition of INEC is geo-politically faulty.
As a result, the Federal Character principle, provided for in Section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution, is totally violated. Out of the four serving national Commissioners of INEC, three (Iwu, Chukwuani and Umeadi) are from the South East zone, and one (Soyebi) is from the South West zone.
The allocation of three slots, in the present circumstance, to the South East is constitutionally wrong.
The four national Commissioners of the Commission, plus its Secretary have been described by critics as the five fingers of a leprous hand.
â€œConstitutionally speaking, they lack quorum to carry out onerous tasks imposed on them by the constitution, and therefore, unfit to represent the Nigeria â€™s Independent National Electoral Commission.
With 13Â (including its national chairman), INECâ€™s activities are constitutionally sanctioned, but with four national Commissioners, the Commissionâ€™s activities are a nullity,â€ Umeagbalasi said.