The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Sunday criticised the appointment of Amina Zakari as Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission and warned that the nation’s electoral system may be heading for the rocks.
He said the appointment was illegal and contravened relevant sections of the Constitution which established the INEC.
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Lere Olayinka, on Sunday, Mr. Fayose said the appointment of Ms. Zakari, who is rumoured to be President Muhammadu’s Buhari’s in-law, contravened the provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“The most honourable thing for President Buhari to do is to rescind the unlawful appointment of Mrs Zakari as INEC Acting Chairperson,” the governor said.
“Since Mrs Zakari’s tenure as INEC National Electoral Commissioner has expired, she cannot continue to preside legally on INEC affairs, except if duly appointed as substantive Chairman of the commission as provided in Section 154 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“One of the major legacies bequeathed to Nigeria by the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party government was free, fair and credible electoral process and President Buhari, who is a beneficiary of this legacy must sustain it by ensuring that the impartiality of the electoral umpire is unblemished by suspicion of partisanship and illegal appointments.”
He argued that respected former lawmaker and former top civil servant, Tanko Yakassai, had revealed that he knew Ms. Zakari since childhood, and that her late father, the former Emir of Kazaure, married President Buhari’s elder sister.
“Alhaji Yakassai went on to reveal that President Buhari lived with and spent a significant part of his early years in the home of Amina Zakari’s father,” Mr. Fayose noted.
“This is enough establishment of conviviality between Mrs. Zakari and President Buhari, whose party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be standing elections with other political parties this year and this will no doubt cast credibility aspersion on any election conducted by INEC headed by Mrs Zakari.”
He further argued that Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which established INEC and other Federal Executive Bodies did not make any provision for the appointment of Acting Chairman.
Mr. Fayose declared Ms. Zakari’s appointment illegal, saying that Section 154 (3) provided that the President shall consult the Council of State in exercising his powers to appoint a person as the chairman of INEC. According to him, there is no record of such consultation before the appointment of Mrs Zakari as INEC ‘Acting Chairperson.’
“The only requisite condition for Mrs Zakari to be acting as the chairman of INEC is that she must be a National Electoral Commissioner and her tenure as National Electoral Commissioner ended on July 21, 2015,” Mr. Fayose submitted.
“As at today, there are four National Electoral Commissioners in INEC instead of 12. They are Abdukadir Sulaimanu Oniyangi, Mohammad Ahmad Wali, Chris Iyimoga and Lawrence Nwuruku.
“If anyone should act as INEC chairman, it should be any of the remaining four National Electoral Commissioners, not someone whose tenure has expired.”