Buhari won’t withdraw INEC REC nominees accused of corruption, partisanship – Lai Mohammed
Allegations by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have been levied against four of the Resident Electoral Commissioners nominated for INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari saying they are either corrupt or partisan and clamoured for their withdrawal.
However, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, said President Muhammadu Buhari will not withdraw four the nominees for the position of INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners who were accused of corruption.
The four nominees are Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto), Sylvia Agu (Enugu), Pauline Onyeka (Imo) and Queen-Elizabeth Agwu (Ebonyi).
Recall that Mr Buhari had on 26 July, submitted 19 names to the Senate for confirmation as RECs.
While Mr Bashir was labeled to have participated as APC governorship candidate in 2015 elections, Ms Agu was associated to the South-east deputy national chairman of the party.
According to the CSOs during their press conference, said Ms Onyeka, a former Head of ICT for INEC in Imo, has a history of “connivance with politicians to circumvent elections in the state.”
They further claimed that Ms Agwu, a former Accountant-General in Ebonyi State, was allegedly suspended on the grounds of corruption in 2016.
The Minsiter, in reaction to the CSOs’ allegations, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said Buhari is not interested in the allegations levied against the nominees.
Mohammed challenged the civil groups and other Nigerians to take the case to the Senate rather than subjecting the current administration to a media trial.
“As to the nominees that are being challenged by social media warriors and by some critics, I don’t think it is the business of the president to immediately throw out the nominees based on allegations which have not been proven.
“I think the whole idea is that these people will go for confirmation in the National Assembly, the same questions that are being raised in the public domain will be asked there.
“I think this media trial is quite worrisome because even when these people are cleared of any wrongdoings, nobody comes back to apologise to them. So, my advice is, yes, there will be allegations against anybody. It does not mean that that fellow is guilty. Let’s wait for the process to be completed,” the minister told State House journalists.
He referenced the APC recent losses in Edo, Osun, Anambra among others as evidence of Mr Buhari’s commitment to free and fair elections.
“Before we came, it was almost impossible for a ruling party to lose an election in any state, maybe governorship. But that has changed under President Muhammadu Buhari. This is because the president has insisted on free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
“So there are no basis for anyone to express doubt that the 2023 general elections will not be free, fair and credible. Mr President has been clear on this and that will not change in the 2023 general elections,” the Minister said.