By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”THE Presidency, yesterday, criticized a statement credited to Chairman of the Electoral Reform Panel, Justice Mohammed Uwais, that theÂ appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega was not in tandem with the recommendations of his panel, insisting that the recommendation was not law.
Reacting to reports in some dailies, Presidential spokesman, Mr. Ima Niboro, said in a statement: â€œNo matter how we feel about the reforms, the law is the law, and Justice Uwais probably knows this more than the rest of us.
Nomination of chairman
â€œFor now, the law in place mandates the President to nominate the Chairman and members of the electoral commission, along with state chairmen of INEC, present them to the National Council of State, which is advisory, and send to the Senate for screening. This is exactly what the President has done.
â€œThe recommendations of the Uwais panel, no matter how well meaning, remain recommendations until they are passed into law by the National Assembly.
We wish to note that with the Acting Chairman of INEC already complaining that time is too short to prepare for the next elections, and all manner of ridiculous tenure elongation scenarios being played in the media, it would have been foolhardy to put off a decision on reconstituting the electoral body until the National Assembly passes the Uwais panelâ€™s recommendations into law.â€
Chairman of electoral panel
The Presidency said its â€œattention has been drawn to remarks by the Chairman of the Electoral Reform Panel, the highly-respected retired Chief Justice Muhammed Uwais over the weekend.
According to the former CJN, as quoted by a national newspaper, â€œI am happy for Professor Jega, for being nominated to be the Chairman of INEC, I know him personally since we worked together on the electoral reform committee, but the method by which he is appointed is not strictly in accordance with the recommendations of the electoral reform committee.
â€œAs you know, what the electoral reform committee recommended is that the National Judicial Council will nominate three persons that it considered suitable for appointment as INEC chairman and those three names to be forwarded to the National Council of State, then the council of state will select one name and forward same to the senate for confirmation.
â€œAnd you know what the National Assembly has so far recommended is that the old practice of the president nominating who shall be the chairman and the members of the commission should be done by the president. â€
The former CJN also expressed his displeasure over non implementation of his committeeâ€™s recommendation saying, â€œour recommendations are what we think is good for this country and if it is altered how do you expect me to be satisfied.”
Niboro said in the statement that Uwais was also quoted as having expressed frustration that the appointment of the new INEC chair was not, strictly speaking, in accordance with the recommendations of the committee.
He said: “We understand and to a large extent share the frustrations of the eminent Jurist. This is even more so if we recall that it was the late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, to whom Dr. Jonathan was deputy that set up the Justice Uwais Committee in the first place.â€
Besides, the statement said: â€œWe must also recall that Dr. Jonathan played a key role in the process, having chaired the committee of all political parties, less the Action Congress, that took a wide ranging look at the defects of our electoral system, and whose report was passed on to, and largely adopted by the Uwaiâ€™s panel.
â€œThis is why the President moved with dispatch to reconstitute INEC, putting together a team whose credibility has been hailed locally and internationally. I would like to state unequivocally that President Jonathan is fully committed to electoral reform, and is determined to ensure above all things that all votes count in Nigeria from now on.â€
According to Niboro, â€œWe understand and to a large extent share the frustrations of the eminent Jurist.
This is even more so if we recall that it was the late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€adua, to whom Dr. Jonathan was deputy that set up the Justice Uwais Committee in the first place.â€