Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and 34 concerned Nigerians have sued President Bola Tinubu and six others at the Federal High Court, Lagos over the appointment of four alleged members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and allies of high-ranking politicians as new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Joined in the suit are the electoral umpire; Senate president, Godswill Akpabio for himself and on behalf of the upper legislative chamber; Messrs Etekamba Umoren; Isah Shaka Ehimeakne; Anugbum Onuoha and Bunmi Omoseyindemi.
The Senate had confirmed the appointment of seven out of 10 newly appointed RECs. The alleged RECs include those from Akwa Ibom, Edo, Lagos and Rivers states.
In the suit, numbered FHC/L/CS/2353/2023 and filed at the weekend by their lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, the plaintiffs are seeking an order setting aside the nomination, confirmation and appointment of the suspected APC members as RECs, for being unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no effect.
They are also seeking an order of mandamus to compel Tinubu and Akpabio to remove the alleged APC members as RECs, in line with Section 157 of the Constitution 1999 (as amended).
The claimants are also seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to appoint qualified Nigerians, who are persons of unquestionable integrity and a non-member of a political party or loyalist to the positions of RECs, in line with Paragraph 14(3)(b)(c), Third Schedule and Section 156 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
In the suit, the plaintiffs maintained that the status, powers, independence of INEC and the impartiality with which it acts and is seen to be allowed to act, are fundamental to the integrity of the nation’s elections and effectiveness of citizens’ democratic rights.
They also argued that INEC ought to be the primary guarantor of the integrity and purity of the electoral process, insisting that the President and Senate have the constitutional responsibilities to ensure both the appearance and actual independence and impartiality in the nomination and confirmation of INEC top officials.
According to them, the credibility and legitimacy of elections depend mostly on the independence and impartiality of those appointed to manage the process.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.