Atiku Abubakar, former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has advocated a review of the procedure for the appointment of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Atiku said the chairman of the electoral body should be appointed by the judiciary, not the president as is currently being done.
In a statement on Monday, the former vice-president said the review of the appointment as approved by the National Electoral Reform Committee will ensure transparency in the electoral process.
Section 154(1) of the 1999 constitution provides that the INEC chairman be appointed by the president who “shall consult the Council of State”, and such appointment “shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
But the committee headed by Mohammed Uwais, former chief justice of Nigeria, had recommended that the appointment process for the chairman as well as the commission’s other top officials, should be overseen by the National Judicial Council (NJC) which will subsequently recommend qualified candidates to the president.
Section 126.96.36.199 (c) of the committee’s report provides: “The National Judicial Council shall advertise the positions of the Chairman, Deputy and the 6 National commissioners; ii. the National Judicial Council shall screen the application received and recommend to the President for appointment subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
Atiku, however, identified the current appointment procedure as one of the loopholes in the country’s electoral process.
He said Nigeria’s electoral system needs to be “brought up to date” by the passage of the electoral act amendment bill while steps are also taken “to ensure that the lapses that made it possible for the 2019 elections to be manipulated or rigged are addressed.”
He also said apart from implementing the recommendations of the Uwais-led committee, an “Electoral Crimes Commission” should also be created.
“One of such recommendations, which will enhance the independence of the supposedly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is the recommendation that the power to appoint the Chairman and board of the INEC be taken away from the President and given to the Judiciary,” he said.
“Of all three arms of government, the judiciary is the least affected by elections, meaning that it has the highest objectivity in matters relating to the INEC.
“It is therefore in the best position of the three arms, to appoint a chairman and board members for the electoral body that are impartial, competent and patriotic.”