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Nigeria: Legislators screen Chair of electoral body

The Senate today began the screening  the nomination of Prof. Attahiru Jega as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 10 others nominated as Commissioners are also being screened.

Those nominated for commissionership are: Mrs. Thelma Iremiren, General Abdullahi Mamman, Dr. Abdulkadir Oniyangi, Dr. Ishmael Igbani, Mrs. Amina Zakari, Prof. Laid Olurode, Mr. Nuru Yakubu, Dame Gladis Nwafor and Col M.K. Hammanga.

Meanwhile, the President promised to withdraw commissioners that were members of the PDP. This came on the heels of complaints, especially by the Action Congress (AC) and some rights groups, that some of the nominees sent for screening and confirmation are members of the ruling party.

Those alleged to be card-carrying members of the PDP are Anka and Mamman while resident electoral commissioner nominees said to be partisan are Alhaji Yakubu Shehu (Kaduna) and Edwin Nwatalari (Enugu).

In a press statement, Nwatalari denied that he is partisan.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Engineer Nwatarali withdrew from partisan politics in 2004 and returned to Engineering consulting. In 2007, he joined Hampoc A.G Limited, an Engineering company that engages in supply and installation of Automated Water Meter Reading[AMR] at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja,” he stated.

The statement continued: “Records of various meetings and other activities of Engineer Nwatarali can be found in the Water Board Department of the Federal Capital Development Authority[FCDA]. Until his appointment as a Resident Electoral Commissioner[REC], Engineer Nwatarali was non partisan; only a private Engineer working in the firm of Hampoc A.G. Such spurious allegations should be disregarded. Any further portrayal of Nwatarali to that effect, will be settled in the court of law.”

Olurode, who was also alleged to be an apologist of the AC, has denied that he worked as speech writer for former Osun State Governor, Chief Bisi Akande.

He also denied through his media consultant in a statement signed by Idowu Quadri (Head, Clients’ Affair of Proumou Media) that he worked with the former governor or belonged to his political party.

Jonathan had said at the PDP NEC meeting that although he had presented the list of 11 nominees to the Senate, he still had ample time to withdraw those that have been active in some political parties before the screening by the Upper House.

He had assured that even after screening and confirmation by the Senate, he could still go back to the house for a review if serious complaints regarding the commissioners.

According to him, “We presented the list of INEC commissioners that will replace the ones that their tenures have expired during the last Council of States meeting and I believe that immediately the Senate sits that will be the first document they will look at.