The confirmation of Etekamba Umoren as Resident Electoral Officer (REC) by the Senate has been opposed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which claims he is a loyalist of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunaba, stated that Umoren has been actively involved in APC campaigns and the promotion of APC’s interests in previous elections.
He said that Umoren’s confirmation violates the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, 2022, and the universal demand for impartiality and non-partisanship of an electoral body and its officials.
In a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Ologunagba said that Umoren was forced on the people of Akwa Ibom State and that his presence as the electoral officer representing the state will cause tension.
The PDP spokesman said that Umoren’s nomination revealed a “dangerous design” by the APC to retain power by controlling and manipulating the operations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On Wednesday, the Senate cleared and confirmed seven out of the 10 nominees by President Bola Tinubu, including Umoren, who represents Akwa Ibom State.
Ologunagba said, “Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022, is explicit and unambiguous in prohibiting partisan persons like APC’s Etekamba Umoren from holding any position whatsoever in INEC.
“To make it clear and emphatic, Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022, states that:
“No person holding an elective office to which this Act relates or a registered member of a political party shall be eligible for or be appointed to carry out the duties of a returning officer, an electoral officer, a presiding officer, or a poll clerk.”
“Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2022, is a crucial provision that confers, affirms, and protects INEC’s statutory independence and guarantees its impartiality and non-partisanship in the electoral process.”
The PDP spokesman said that the breach of this key provision, as in the case of Etekamba Umoren, is a serious attack on INEC’s credibility as an institution of democracy and the integrity of the electoral process.
“Our Party is aware of the mission allegedly given to Etekamba Umoren by the APC leadership to use the office of the REC to compromise sensitive processes, materials, and systems, including voter registration, collection of voter cards, tampering with the voter register, delineation of electoral constituencies, and intimidation of INEC staff, all to lay the foundation for the APC to rig the process leading to future elections in Akwa Ibom State.