By Cecilia Ijuo
The Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Mrs Asmanu Maikudi from Katsina State and seven others as Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC).
Other nominees, who were equally confirmed are, Mr Sam Olumekun from Ondo State, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu from Sokoto State, Mr Kassim Geidam from Yobe and Jibrin Zarewa from Kano State.
Prof. Samuel Egwu from Kogi, Mr Mike Igini from Delta and Abdulganiyu Raji from Oyo State were also confirmed.
The upper chamber, however, stepped down consideration of Amb. Rufus Akeju (Lagos), Dr Mahmuda Isah (Kebbi) and Ahmad Mahmud (Zamfara).
It also rejected the nomination of Prof. Mustapha Zubairu of Niger on the ground that he came from the same geo-political zone with Mohammed Haruna, the Federal Commissioner, representing North Central in INEC.
This decision of the senate followed the report of the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) presented by its Chairman, Sen. Suleiman Nazif.
The decision of the chamber to step down the confirmation of Akeju was sequel to a Point-of-Order raised by the Deputy Minority Whip, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, on a court judgment against his appointment.
Displaying a copy of the judgment, she warned that confirming the nominee would amount to a negation of the powers of the judiciary.
On the nominees from Kebbi and Zamfara, the senate said that there were issues on their cases that needed to be further investigated.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, charged the successful nominees to contribute their quota to transform election process in the country.
He said that their appointment was timely as it would have positive impact on elections in the country.
“The newly confirmed Resident Electoral Commissioners are people of high integrity, disciplined and full of patriotism.
So, we expect that the gains recorded by INEC in the previous elections should be surpassed.
“The timetable recently released by INEC for 2019 general elections is timely and this will give the newly-appointed RECs an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the previous elections.
“On our part as a Senate, our committee is working on the amendment of the Electoral Act to further complement the electoral body,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate had, prior to the confirmation of the RECs, clarified that it had not changed its resolution not to consider presidential requests for confirmation on areas not specified in the Constitution.
It stated that it would maintain the position until judicial interpretation was made on those areas.
This followed a Point of Order by Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Whiling citing Order 43, he said that he was taken aback when he read in the newspapers that the Senate had reversed its resolution on confirmation of certain executive nominations.
On that, Saraki said, “this institution has great respect on the resolutions that we pass here as a body.
“We will never go against our resolutions. If you can recollect, what we said is explicitly stated in the Constitution in Section 153 or even section 171.
“Ambassadorial and ministerial appointments are the only ones that we will continue to consider.
“Those are ambassadors, ministers and others bodies, specified in the Constitution.
“The National Assembly will not consider anyone outside the specified agencies, and INEC is among those bodies that are in section 153, which we will consider their nominations.
“This is just to assure you that we have not shifted ground on this resolution.
“Please discard what you read from the newspapers and be guided that as presiding officers we respect the law,’’ he said.
In another development, the National Information and Intelligence Database Bill, 2017 scaled first reading at the plenary.
The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi(APC-Kaduna), is aimed at making the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit(NFIU) autonomous of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).
It is part of effort to lift the suspension of Nigeria from EGMONT, an international Financial Intelligence Group.