The Peoples Democratic Party has rejected the appointment of Etekamba Umoren as a Resident Electoral Commissioner.
The Senate yesterday confirmed the appointments of seven out of the 10 RECs forwarded to it by President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday, reports The PUNCH.
The RECs whose appointments were confirmed are Umoren (Akwa Ibom), Isah Ehimeakne (Edo), Oluwatoyin Babalola (Ekiti), Abubakar Ma’aji (Gombe), Shehu Wahab (Kwara), Aminu Idris (Nasarawa), and Mohammed Sadiq (Niger).
But the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, at a press conference in Abuja today, described the appointments as the All Progressives Congress’ plot to perpetuate itself in power by allegedly manipulating the operations of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“Of particular concern is the brazen imposition of a card-carrying member and prominent leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Etekamba Umoren, as the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State despite the loud and widespread outcry and rejection by Nigerians, and particularly our party, the PDP and the people of Akwa Ibom State,” he stated.
Ologunagba described Umoren as a known APC leader who has been at the forefront of APC campaigns and has projected the party’s interests in previous elections.
He added, “The PDP, therefore, in clear and unequivocal terms, rejects the imposition of Etekamba Umoren as INEC REC for Akwa Ibom State being conceived in iniquity and in flagrant violation of the express provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022 and the universal demand of impartiality and non-partisanship of an electoral body and its officials.
“For clarity and emphasis, Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022 states 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 the duties of a returning officer, an electoral officer, presiding officer or a poll clerk.”
Ologunagba described Umoren’s appointment as a grievous assault on INEC’s credibility as an institution of democracy and the sanctity of the electoral process.
He added that the appointment is a provocative defilement of the independence, integrity, and credibility of the electoral system.
He insisted that the appointment will not be allowed to stand, saying Umoren’s appointment is generating serious agitation in Akwa Ibom State.
He continued, “It is instructive to alert that the import of the violation of Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022 is to the effect that any election conducted or superintended by Etekamba Umoren will be subject to illegitimacy on the ground that the electoral body is constituted contrary to and in violation of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“Moreover, the underlying substance, essence and significance of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is for appointments into Federal Agencies, especially sensitive agencies like INEC to be made in such a manner to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty.
“The provocative imposition of a card-carrying member and known leader of the APC as the INEC REC for Akwa Ibom State which has resulted in tension in the State is at variance and in desecration of the express provision, intent and purpose of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which is to promote national unity and loyalty in all the component parts of Nigeria.
“Etekamba Umoren should therefore steer clear of INEC office in Akwa Ibom State. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu should immediately commence the process of appointing a neutral Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State so as to avert crisis and illegitimacy in future elections in the state.”