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Coalition kicks over appointment of former APC guber aspirant as Jigawa REC

By John Akubo, Abuja
16 November 2022   |   11:44 am
A Coalition of Civil Society operating under the aegis of 'Society Watch' and 'National Peace Campaign' has demanded that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Jigawa Prof. Muhammad Lawal be relieved of his appointment alleging that the appointment was in clear breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…

[FILES] Osun election. Photo/FACEBOOK/inecnigeria

A Coalition of Civil Society operating under the aegis of ‘Society Watch’ and ‘National Peace Campaign’ has demanded that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Jigawa Prof. Muhammad Lawal be relieved of his appointment alleging that the appointment was in clear breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.

The Coalition with an interest in election monitoring and governance tracking petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari that the said appointment 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 Progressive Congress party (APC) in Sokoto State.

Also copied were the National Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’Senate President Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, the Chairman Public Complaints Commission, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Jigawa State, Director General Department of State Security.

A copy of the petition which was signed by Desmond Ebireri National Coordinator SOCIETY WATCH and Valentine Opaluwa of the NATIONAL PEACE CAMPAIGN which was also made available to the Guardian in Abuja reads in part,

“In the course of our research on the newly sworn-in Resident Electoral Commissioners and subsequent postings to their various States of assignments, we have discovered that Prof. Muhammad Lawal’s appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Jigawa State was in clear breach of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.

“It was also in breach of Electoral Act as amended in 2022, due to his partisanship and involvement in political party, particularly, the ruling All Progressive congress party (APC) in Sokoto State.

“Specifically, Prof. Muhammad Lawal had contested 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.”

According to the Coalition, Prof. Lawal’s nomination, confirmation by the Nigerian Senate and his subsequent posting to Jigawa State in the Northwest, undoubtedly, is 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 immediate sack of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC.

The petition recalled that, the Nigerian Senate, particularly 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.

“The security report which we believed was diligently carried out indicted Professor Lawal as a card carrying member of APC. He is on the APC register in his ward and an active politician who is interested in the office of Governor of Sokoto State.

“Sadly, your Excellency, inhibitions that were supposed to stop the confirmation of Professor Muhammad Lawal were in public domain and widely publicized as could be seen in the Sun Newspapers of 16th May, 2019 and other mainstream media platforms.

“The appointment of Prof. Muhammad Lawal is seen as a slur on the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari at ensuring, a free and credible election.

“The commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in conducting a free, fair and credible election, particularly as he round-off his second tenure of office on May 29, 2023 was the introduction of BVAS and IReV, hence, anyone who is involved in a strategic INEC office as Resident Electoral Commissioner need to be apolitical.”

According to the Coalition the assumption of duty of Professor Lawal on 7th November, 2022, in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital was received with mixed feelings by the electorate as they wondered what has become of INEC act that people who are nonpartisan shall be the ones appointed to serve as INEC officials.