Reps to bar INEC officials from politics after retirement, resignation

The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to bar National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission from contesting elections within five years after retirement or resignation.

If the bill is passed by both chamber of the National Assembly and assented into law by the President, such persons would not be able to run for any elective public office until five years after resigning or retiring.

The proposal is contained in a bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act 2019, which the lawmaker representing Epe Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Olawale Raji, sponsored.

The legislation, which has passed second reading at the House on Tuesday, 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 specifically seeks to amend Section 146 of the Electoral Act by creating a new Subsection 2 that would 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 3rd 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.”

Raji said, “The bill seeks 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 and other related matters.”

The REC in charge of Cross River State, Dr Frankland Briyai, had on August 8, 2019, resigned his appointment to enable him contest the governorship race in Bayelsa State.

He had announced his resignation at the state headquarters of the INEC in Calabar, telling journalists that he had to resign to heed the call of the people of Bayelsa to contest the November 16, 2019 governorship election.

INEC had the next day sacked Briyai, claiming it had yet to receive his resignation letter.

In statement by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, INEC had frowned at the use of its premises or facilities for any political purpose, describing the act as unlawful and contravention the Code of Conduct subscribed to by all officials of the commission.

Ironically, the All Progressives Congress Screening Committee had disqualified the former REC from the party’s August 29 governorship primary in Bayelsa.

The Senator Abdullahi Gumel-led panel said Briyai’s nomination did not meet the criteria of the party, based on Section 3, Paragraph L of the guidelines for nomination of candidates.

The section says that an aspirant must have been a financial member of the party for a period not less than one year.