The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT, and 34 concerned individuals have taken legal action against President Bola Tinubu regarding the appointment of four All Progressives Congress (APC) members and allies of influential politicians as new resident electoral commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
As reported by the Daily Independent, the Senate has confirmed seven of the ten newly appointed RECs for INEC.
The individuals appointed as RECs, allegedly affiliated with the APC, are from Akwa Ibom, Edo, Lagos, and Rivers states.
In a lawsuit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos with the case number FHC/L/CS/2353/2023 last Friday, the plaintiffs are requesting the court to set aside the nomination, confirmation, and appointment of these alleged APC members as RECs, citing the actions as unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void, and of no effect.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a court order, known as mandamus, to compel President Tinubu and Senate President Godswill Akpabio to remove the alleged APC members from their positions as RECs for INEC, in accordance with Section 157 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).
Additionally, they are requesting another mandamus order directing President Tinubu to appoint qualified Nigerians with unquestionable integrity, non-members of a political party or loyalists, to the positions of RECs for INEC, in line with specified constitutional provisions.
The plaintiffs argue that: “INEC ought to be the primary guarantor of the integrity and purity of the electoral process. President Tinubu and the Senate have the constitutional responsibilities to ensure both the appearance and the actual independence and impartiality in the nomination and confirmation of INEC top officials.
“The credibility and legitimacy of elections depend mostly on the independence and impartiality of those appointed to manage the process. Without an independent and impartial INEC, the democratic rights of Nigerians would remain illusory.”
The lawsuit includes as defendants: INEC, Mr. Godswill Akpabio, representing himself and the Senate, and Messrs. Etekamba Umoren, Isah Shaka Ehimeakne, Anugbum Onuoha, and Bunmi Omoseyindemi. A date for the hearing of the case has not yet been scheduled.