Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), along with BudgIT and 34 concerned Nigerians, has taken legal action against President Bola Tinubu regarding the appointment of purported All Progressives Congress (APC) members and associates of high-ranking politicians as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a lawsuit filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos under suit number FHC/L/CS/2353/2023, the Plaintiffs are urging the court to nullify the appointment of alleged APC members as RECs, citing the appointments as unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void, and of no effect.
The Plaintiffs are seeking a court order to compel President Tinubu and Senate President Mr. Godswill Akpabio to remove the alleged APC members as RECs for INEC, in accordance with Section 157 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended). Additionally, they are seeking a directive for President Tinubu to appoint qualified Nigerians of unquestionable integrity and non-members of a political party or loyalists to the positions of RECs for INEC.
The lawsuit contends that the independence and impartiality of INEC are crucial to the integrity of Nigeria’s elections and citizens’ democratic rights. It emphasizes the constitutional responsibilities of President Tinubu and the Senate to ensure both the appearance and actual independence and impartiality in the nomination and confirmation of INEC top officials.
The Plaintiffs argue that the appointment of RECs for INEC should be non-partisan, independent, impartial, and neutral to maintain the credibility and legitimacy of elections. They assert that INEC officials should discharge their duties without bias, in line with the Electoral Act.
The lawsuit highlights constitutional provisions and international standards, emphasizing the need for INEC’s independence from political influence. It points out that the recent appointments allegedly breach the Electoral Act and constitutional provisions regarding the non-partisanship and integrity of those appointed to manage the electoral process.
The Plaintiffs further reference international obligations, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s call for independent electoral authorities to ensure fair and impartial elections. The lawsuit names specific individuals recently appointed as RECs, raising concerns about their political affiliations and potential bias.
Defendants in the suit include INEC, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, Etekamba Umoren, Isah Shaka Ehimeakne, Anugbum Onuoha, and Bunmi Omoseyindemi. The hearing date for the suit has not been scheduled as of now.