Prof Jega Can Only Be Removed From Office Subject To The Approval Of The Senate – Okoi Obono-Obla

(By Okoi Obono-Obla)

Since INEC was forced to postpone the date of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections from the original date of 14th February 2015 to the 28th March, 2015 by the National Security Adviser in collusion with the Service Chiefs; the media has been swashed with a deluge of speculation that the Federal Government of Nigeria intend to remove Professor Jega.

Professor Attahiru Jega is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC).

He was appointed Chairman of INEC by President Good luck Jonathan on the 8th June, 2010.

It is a notorious fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission is the statutory body empowered by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) respectively to conduct elections into the elective offices stipulated by the Constitution such as election to the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) ; Offices of State Governors and State Assemblies of the 36 States of the Federation and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

By virtue of the provisions of Section 154 (1) of the Constitution, the appointment of the Chairman and Members of INEC is by the President but subject to confirmation of the Senate.

Accordingly the appointment of Professor Jega was confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 24th June, 2010.

The tenure of the Chairman of INEC by the Constitution is five years from the date of appointment.

Since Professor Jega appointment was confirmed by the Senate on the 24th June, 2010.

It is clear by the provision of the Interpretation Act, 2010, that the time would begin to run for the purpose of the computation of the period when Professor Jega’s five years tenure from the 24th June 2010; when his appointment by the President was confirmed by the Senate.

Accordingly the five years tenure of Professor Jega would expired by on the 24th June, 2015.

Since INEC was forced to postpone the date of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections from the original date of 14th February 2015 to the 28th March, 2015 by the National Security Adviser in collusion with the Service Chiefs; the media has been swashed with a deluge of speculation that the Federal Government of Nigeria intend to remove Professor Jega.

It goes without saying that Professor Jega would still be the Chairman of INEC by the 28th March, 2015 when the Presidential and National Assembly Elections would be conducted.

Indeed by the 11th April 2015 when the Governorship and States Assemblies election will take place, Professor Jega would still the Chairman of INEC.

By Section 157 (1) of the Constitution, the Chairman and members of INEC can only be removed from office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that they be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of their offices (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct.

In other words, the removal of the Chairman and Members of INEC by the President must be supported by the two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has membership strength of 107.

It follows that to removal the Chairman of INEC and Members by the President such removal must be supported by at least 70 Senators.

Arising from the present political configuration of the Senate, it is doubtful that the President can muster a two-thirds majority of Senate to support his address to remove the Chairman of INEC.

There has being endless speculation that the President would likely request the Professor Jega to proceed on terminal leave since his appointment would lapse on the 23rd June, 2015.

This proposition is untenable because the appointment of Professor Jega is not regulated by the Public (Civil) Service Rules of the Federation that requires that any civil servant who is retiring to proceed on terminal leave prior to his retirement.

Professor Jega is a public servant not a civil service. He is not required to go on terminal leave before his tenure expires.

In any the Public Service Rules /Circulars cannot be superior to the provisions of the Constitution by virtue of the doctrine of the supremacy of the Constitution; that provides that any law or regulation that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void and must therefore bow to the Constitution.

The terms and condition of service of Professor Jega are not regulated by the Public Service Rules of the Federation.

It follows that Professor Jega’s tenure will expire on the 23rd June, 2015 when the President elected on the 28th March 2015 would have been inaugurated into office.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”



 RISE NETWORKS

A Social Enterprise committed to the development of African Youth through Innovative, Thought Provoking and Educative Forums / Events. Wish to see your Articles / Opinions Published on Rise Networks Website? Send them to info@risenetworks.org. | Need to reach us? Whatsapp 07060545018 or ping (BBM) 224DDBAF

Follow us on Twitter at @risenetworks and Facebook at facebook.com/RISEGROUP



RISE NETWORKS

"Nigeria's Leading Private Sector and Donor funded Social Enterprise with deliberate interest in Technology and its relevance to Youth and Education Development across Africa. Our Strategic focus is on vital human capital Development issues and their relationship to economic growth and democratic consolidation." Twitter: @risenetworks || Facebook - RISE GROUP || Google Plus - Rise Networks