The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has delivered a petition alleging that an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) nominee from Bagelsa State, Prof Rhoda Gumus, ‘is a card-carrying member of the All progressives Congress (APC).
HURIWA, in a petition dated 26 of January 2022 and signed by its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, addressed to the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said Prof Gumus nomination was in breach of the 1999 constitution as amended and the Electoral Act.
The rights group, however, enjoined the leadership of the National Assembly to outrightly reject Gumus’ nomination in the interest of the country.
The rights group warned the National Assembly to guard against the confirmation of Gumus so as not to set the stage for a very huge political crisis, which is capable of derailing the country’s democratic process.
HURIWA said: “We have uncovered material evidence (copies attached) revealing that Prof Rhoda H. Gumus; INEC National Commissioner nominee for Bayelsa State, South-South is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and by confirming her as a National Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), tasked with the mandate to conduct elections in Nigeria wherein the All Progressives Congress will participate.
“Prof Gumus’ confirmation by this 9th Senate will be a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Constitution specifically declares that appointees to the electoral body must be non-partisan and also not a card-carrying member of any political party.
“Specifically, Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that “a member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.
“And Section 14(3b) of the same Schedule states that ‘there shall be for each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commissioner who shall be a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party.’ This, however, directly applies to members appointed as Resident Electoral Commissioners.
“While preceding paragraphs empowers the president to make appointments and the Senate to make confirmations, 3b, demands that the integrity of an appointee must not be in question.
“More so, Section 152 of the Electoral Act, provides that; ‘No person holding an elective office to which this act relates or a registered member of a Political Party shall be eligible for or be appointed to carry out duties of a returning officer, an electoral officer, the presiding officer or Poll Clerk.
“Hence, confirming the nomination of Rhoda Gumus as a National Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission would constitute a direct violence against the relevant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the independence of INEC, the Senate is hereby called upon to reject this nomination.”