Three Months To Kogi’s Guber Poll, INEC Paralysed?

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may run into crisis as a result of its inability to effectively function as an election management body because its present composition deprives it of the statutory quorum required to take very important and sensitive decisions.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, stipulates in Section 159(1) that Commissions, such as INEC, must have a quorum of one third of its members to take important top management decisions.

The National Commissioners of the Commission are 13, comprising the Chairman and 12 National Commissioners.

One third of 13 is not less than five National Commissioners.

Consequent upon the death of Prof. Akinola M. Salau, a National Commissioner at INEC, the number of the National Commissioners have gone down to four – even without prejudice to the on-going controversy over the legitimacy of the tenure of the acting Chairperson, Mrs. Amina Zakari, a matter that is already the subject of litigation at a Federal High Court.

This is because the tenure of Mrs. Zakari, begotten in consultation with the National Council of State and confirmed by the Senate when she was appointed ended on July 21, 2015.

The purported termination of her tenure by the Head of Service on June 30, 2015, did not follow the laid down constitutional provision.

Section  157  (1) states that  “Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, a person holding any of the offices to which this section applies may only be removed from that office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct”.

None of these applied to Mrs. Zakari before the Head of Service terminated her tenure.

On the 11th of this month, few days from now, two of the National Commissioners would also disengage, leaving only one and Mrs. Zakari.

Meanwhile, Section  159  (1)  states that “the quorum for a meeting of any of the bodies established by section 153 of this Constitution shall be not less than one-third of the total number of members of that body at the date of the meeting”.

In the event that the meaning of Section 159 is stretched elastically and crudely, a quorum in the event of a two-member commission gives the acting Chairman the latitude to take decisions since one of two is not less than one third.

Yet, there are some very important issues for INEC to deal with.

Among the important issues that remain unresolved by the Commission is the delivery of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) of a substantial number of voters.  

Then there is the uncoordinated and alleged compromise of outstanding litigations in various tribunals on the results of the just conducted general elections.

Importantly, the Kogi State governorship election is slated for November 21, 2015, and INEC, as presently constituted, runs the risk of taking decisions that would be challenged in court. (Vanguard)
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