Senate rejects Osun REC nominee over APC membership

The Senate on Wednesday, rejected the nomination of Mr Raheem Muideen, as the Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Osun State.

There was a mild drama at the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday when the Osun State Commissioner nominee for the agency,  Raheem Muideen, admitted that he remained a member of the All Progressives Congress.

Muideen had created a scene while being screened by the  Senate committee on November 5 when he confirmed being a member of the APC.

Presenting the report of his committee on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Senate panel on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said Muideen’s nomination was not confirmed because he could not defend the allegations of bias levelled against him by a petitioner.

Attempts by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, to save the Osun nominee failed.

He argued that the petitioner did not show up at the Senate panel to defend his petition, hence Muideen should not be disqualified as a result of that.

The Minority Leader,  Enyinnaya Abaribe,  said the committee stood down the confirmation of the Osun nominee because he confirmed during screening that he was a card-carrying member of the APC.

He said the panel only deferred Muideen’s confirmation pending when he would clear himself of the allegation.

The Senate, therefore, approved the recommendations of the INEC panel and confirmed the appointment of other nominees.

They include Umar Mukhtar Gajiram (Borno), Dr Aiaiibo Sinikiem Johnson (Bayelsa).

Muideen had appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC for his confirmation screening after his nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The 46-year-old academic told the committee that he was still a bona-fide member of the APC.

His confession therefore confirmed a petition against his nomination by one Oyebade Adebisi, who alleged that he had openly supported a particular political party which negates part of the constitutional criteria for appointing an INEC commissioner.

A member of the Senate screening panel, Opeyemi Bamidele, pointed out that the committee could not be seen to be endorsing a violation of the Nigerian constitution which clearly provides that an occupant of the office of the INEC commissioner must be apolitical.

Adebisi became unsettled by the last-minute petition against his nomination.

He failed repeatedly to respond favourably to questions that could have offered him a soft landing.

He said, “I am a member of the APC. I am a member of the APC and I contested local government chairmanship in 2013. In 2015, I left politics and moved to the University of Ibadan to study psychology.

“I obtained the card then when I had the intention of contesting an election. On the question whether I was a director general of a contestant, yes, I was DG of a contestant in 2017.”

However, Muideen said he was not rejected.  He said the senators only stepped down his nomination.

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