REC Nominees: Senate rejects ‘former’ APC member, confirms two others

The Senate has stood down the nomination of Olalekan Raheem as a Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It, however, confirmed the nomination of Umar Gajiram and Aialiibo Johnson.

These were part of the recommendations of the Senate Committee on INEC which screened the nominees after President Muhammadu Buhari sought the Senate’s approval of their confirmation on October 29.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how one of the nominees, Mr Raheem, revealed that he was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He had told the committee that he was a member of the APC and had contested for local government chairmanship in Osogbo, Osun State.

“I am a member of APC and I contested for the chairmanship of Osogbo local government in 2013. In 2015, I moved on to go and study Psychology in University of Ibadan. I had the card then when I had the intention of contesting.

“I was a DG of a contestant in 2017. I was part of the campaign. I am no longer a card-carrying member since I left to go back to school. I have not been attending political function again,” he explained.

In a separate statement, Mr Raheem insisted that he is no longer a member of the ruling party. He also wondered if there was any law that says he cannot support a candidate of his choice.

The rejection/confirmation

The chairman of the committee, Kabiru Gaya, who presented the report, recommended that the two other nominees be confirmed having met the requirements.

He asked that the Senate stand down the confirmation of Mr Raheem for further investigation. This, he said, is because a petition had been written against him accusing him of being a card-carrying member of the APC.

Mr Gaya said the petitioner was, however, not available to provide evidence against the nominee.

Prior to the voice vote, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the Senate to go ahead and confirm the nominee because the petitioner could not produce evidence.

He said it is unfair to defer his appointment on such note.

In a counter-argument, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, reminded the Senate that the nominee had admitted to being a member of the party already.

That alone, he said, is enough to disqualify him.

The lawmaker urged his colleagues to adopt the recommendations of the committee so he matter is either investigated or the nominee is replaced.

“From the recommendations, the committee were being tactful – which is another way of saying another nominee should be sent. There are a lot of people in Osun State… I suggest we adopt the recommendations of the committee,” he said.

After a voice vote, the lawmakers confirmed Messrs Gajiram and Johnson and stood down the confirmation of Mr Raheem for further investigation.

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