The House of Representatives has started the process of barring serving or retired Independent National Electoral Commission National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners from standing for election.
If the bill is passed and signed into law, they will not be able to run for any elective public offices until five years after resigning or retiring.
The proposal is contained in a bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act sponsored by the lawmaker representing Epe Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Mr Olawale Raji.
The legislation, which has passed first reading, is titled, ‘A bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act to prohibit electoral officers from engaging in partisan politics within five years of retirement, resignation and official relief of duties.’
The bill seeks to amend Section 146 of the Electoral Act by creating a new Subsection 2 that will read, “Notwithstanding (1) above, and anything to the contrary in any enactment or law, a person who holds or has held office as a member of the commission appointed by the President by virtue of the Third Schedule, Part 1 (f) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Resident Electoral Commissioner appointed under the Act shall not, until after a period of five years immediately after retirement, resignation or official relief of duties, be qualified for any elective office in Nigeria.”
The REC in charge of Cross River State, Dr Frankland Briyai, on August 8 resigned his appointment to enable him to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa State.
He announced his resignation at the state headquarters of INEC in Calabar, telling journalists that he had to resign to heed the call of the people of Bayelsa, youth groups in Niger Delta, North and South-East, ECOWAS, Africa and the Commonwealth to contest the November 16 governorship election.
INEC sacked Briyai the next day, claiming they had yet to receive his resignation letter.
In a statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, INEC frowned on the use of its premises or facilities for any political purpose, describing the act as unlawful and a contravention of the Code of Conduct subscribed to by all officials of the commission.
Ironically, the All Progressives Congress Screening Committee disqualified Briyai from the party’s August 29 governorship primary.
The Senator Abdullahi Gumel panel said Briyai’s nomination did not meet the criteria of the party, based on Section 3, Paragraph L of the guidelines for the nomination of candidates.
The section says that an aspirant must have been a financial member of the party for a period of not less than one year.
Also, the Senate on December 4 rejected the nomination of Mr Raheem Muideen as Osun State REC.
While being screened by the Senate Committee on INEC, Muideen admitted that he remained a member of the APC.