Wednesday, February 11, 2015 9:42 am
Jega, acting under the blackmail of the National Security Adviser and military chiefs, shifted the February elections till 28 March and 11 April.
No sooner he did than speculations began that he would not be around to supervise the election as he will need to embark on a three month terminal leave from March, since his tenure will expire in June.
Gbajabiamila, who is also a lawyer said the speculation has no basis whatsoever.
But he quickly added a caveat: You can’t put anything past this government.
Gbajabiamila also reacted to the speculation that Professor Olufemi Mimiko, brother of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, an ally of President Goodluck Jonathan,is being lined up as Jega’s successor. The minority leader said such an appointment would violate the conflict of interest principle.
“From a legal standpoint, I do not think any such attempt can pass constitutional muster.
“Firstly I do not consider the Chairman INEC as a civil servant subject to civil service rules same way I as a member of the House of Representatives am not a civil servant. There is a difference between a civil servant and a public servant or officer. Jega falls under the latter. INEC and its chairman are a creation of the constitution. Their operations, rules and regulations are as provided under Sections 156 and 160 of the Nigerian constitution which expressly states that only INEC has the powers to regulate its own procedures and cannot be subject to approval of the President or any other authority thereby establishing its independence.
“Secondly, “terminal leave” is a form of removal whichever you cut or slice it and section 157 of the constitution is very clear that the removal of the chairman of INEC can only be initiated by two thirds of the Senate and not by the President.
“The question of who is a civil servant is answered in section 171 of the constitution and the chairman INEC is not included.
“Finally, it will be a violation of section 1 of the Code of Conduct as embedded in Part 1 of the fifth schedule to the constitution to appoint Prof. Mimiko, brother to a PDP governor ( if the rumours are indeed true), as INEC chairman. There is an inherent conflict of interest and that will never fly. The section I just referred to states:
” A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities ”
“This government needs to start thinking for once!!”