By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
A pro-democracy group, National Coalition for Progressive Change, has lashed out at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which, last weekend, sacked the immediate past Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Cross River, Dr Frankland Briyai, submitting that it was only the president, with endorsement of the National Assembly, who could sack a REC and not INEC.
Recall that INEC had said in a press release, signed by Festus Okoye, national commissioner on information and voters education, that it sacked Briyai for allegedly using the Commission’s premises to declare intention to contest the forthcoming governorship race in Bayelsa state.
The REC, had last Thursday, during a grand send-off party at the INEC headquarters in Calabar, said he resigned from the Commission so as to heed the call of his people to contest the governorship election under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
But INEC had argued that “while it is the right of any Commissioner or official of the Commission to resign his or her appointment and join any political party of his/her choice and to aspire for any office or position, INEC frowns at the use of its premises or facilities for any political purposes for it is unlawful and contrary to the Code of Conduct subscribed to by all its Commissioners. Following the declaration, the Commission has relieved Dr Briyai of his duties as REC and withdrawn all powers delegated to him.”
However, the group said Briyai followed due process and that INEC decision to sack the former REC was unconstitutional and a calculated attempt at tarnishing Briyai’s image before the election.
Speaking, the South South Coordinator of the group, Comrade Sampson Effiong said Briyai’s resignation letter, dated August 5, 2019 was acknowledged by the electoral body and wondered why INEC said Briyai was yet to formally resigned.
“We are well aware that Briyai sent his resignation letter since August 5, 2019. He is only answering the call to serve his people who have found him worthy to lead the State,” the group stated.
According to the group, the former REC did not use INEC facilities to make any form of declaration but only honoured reception organized for him by the staff who worked under him, to bid him farewell.
“INEC decision is unconstitutional and cannot stand because the Section 306(2) which they quoted does not give them powers to sack a senior appointee such as REC
“REC was appointed by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly and so only the President has powers to remove him and not the commission. We wonder therefore why INEC is now acting on behalf of the Presidency or perhaps they have ulterior motive which is to bring the former REC down because of his rising profile. We call on INEC to rescind its decision or we might be forced to seek redress in a competent court of law,” the group stated.
By Joseph Kingston, Calabar