* Says it’s inappropriate to stay in office without senate confirmation
By Chuks Okocha
In compliance with the constitution, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Monday handed over the affairs of the commission to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Mauzu as the acting chairman of the commission pending his confirmation by the Senate.
Air Vice Marshal Muazu is the INEC National Commissioner in charge of the Commission’s Tender Board. He is to manage the affairs of INEC in acting capacity.
Speaking in a brief handover ceremony, Prof. Yakubu said, “As you are already aware, the renewal of my tenure as Chairman of the Commission has been announced, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
“Our work as election managers requires us to enforce the law, regulations and guidelines. In doing so, we must demonstrate strict respect for, and compliance with, the Constitution of Nigeria and subsidiary laws.
“Consequently, it will be inappropriate for me to remain in office beyond today, 9th November 2020, without confirmation by the Senate and swearing to another oath of office as provided by law”, Prof. Yakubu stated.
Accordingly, he said that pending the conclusion of the statutory process in the senate, “the remaining National Commissioners have resolved that AVM Ahmed Mu’azu (rtd) will oversee the affairs of the Commission.
“It is therefore my pleasure to hand over to him in the interim. We have worked as a team for the last four years. Therefore, there is nothing new to anyone of them.”
Prof. Yakubu said that he and outgone five Commissioners were sworn-in on 9th November 2015, followed by another six Commissioners on 7th December 2016 and one more Commissioner on 21st July 2018.
Yakubu stated that INEC was a constitutional body whose members are appointed for five years which may be renewed for a second and final term, adding, “This means that my tenure and that of the first set of five Commissioners ends today.”
He expressed his appreciation for the support of the Commission members, the Resident Electoral Commissioners, the Secretary to the Commission, the Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Directors, members of the technical team, heads of the various security agencies deployed to INEC and all staff of the Commission nationwide, stating that he look forward to working with them again.
The INEC Commissioners whose five year tenure ended on November 9 were Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbine (Kogi), North-central; Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (Borno), North-east; Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (Edo), South-south and Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi (Ogun), South-west.
Those that are still on board are Prof. Okechukwu Ifeanyi, who is the commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations, Mohammed Haruna, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu who chairs INEC Tenders Board, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, is the INEC chairman on Outreach, Partnership and Civil Society (OPC) Mrs. May Agbumuche Mbu, and Abubakar Nauhuche.
Nauhuche has resigned a few days ago on account of ill health.
Starting from Tuesday, the Commission under the acting chair AVM Muazu will consult with political parties and civil society organisations, and then with the media and Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Wednesday.
The Commission will thereafter meet again with the Resident Electoral Commissioners on Thursday to decide on a date for the conduct of the bye-elections.
The outcome of these consultations will determine whether INEC will conduct the remaining National Assembly and States House of Assembly bye-elections in eleven states.
INEC had earlier scheduled the bye-elections to hold on October 31, but due to the destruction of the commission’s properties, during the #EndAARS Protests, it was shifted indefinitely.
Feelers from INEC showed that due to the level of damage to INEC property and electoral materials, the bye-elections may not hold this year.