A coalition of Civil Society Organisations has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding the immediate removal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Jigawa, Prof Muhammad Lawal Bashar, over alleged partisanship.
The petition letter, a copy obtained by Daily Trust on Wednesday, was also copied to the INEC chairman, the Senate president, the chairman of the Public Complaints Commission, the Director of DSS and Jigawa REC.
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Desmond Ebireri, the National Coordinator of Society Watch and Valentine Opaluwa of the National Peace Campaign signed the petition on behalf of the coalition.
The coalition said its findings showed that Prof. Lawal’s appointment as REC in charge of Jigawa State was in clear breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended and was also in breach of the Electoral Act as amended in 2022, due to his partisanship and involvement in a political party, particularly, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sokoto State.
“Specifically, Prof. Muhammad Lawal had contested the Sokoto State governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and was a former Special Adviser to the then Sokoto State governor, Senator Magatakarda Wammako in 2019.
“Hence, he was actively involved in political activities in Sokoto State, having participated in political meetings, rallies and conventions up till the time he was erroneously nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Sokoto State slot by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Your Excellency, Prof. Lawal’s nomination, confirmation by the Nigerian Senate and his subsequent posting to Jigawa State in the Northwest, undoubtedly, a violation of Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which provides that ‘a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.’
“This petition is to draw your attention to the absurdities for quick intervention by an immediate sack of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC”, the coalition said.
The coalition said the Nigerian Senate, particularly the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headed by Senator Kabir Gaya representing Kano South Senatorial district, which confirmed Prof. Lawal “was not fair to the provisions of law.”
Prof Lawal is yet to react to the allegation. Ahead of his swearing in, Buhari was under pressure to replace some RECs who had ties to politicians but the president stood his ground.