Embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the state, Mrs. Gesila Khan was yesterday absent from the quarterly meeting Commission’s amongst the RECS and management.
Following the recent expiration of tenures of the Commissioners at the electoral INEC Mrs. Khan is one of the 21 RECs still left in the commission to steer it’s affairs until a new set of Commissioners are constituted.
It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party has been lamenting the arrest of some commissioners by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Also noticeable at the meeting was the almost vacant seats on the high table as only Hajiya Zakari and Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku occupy only two seats reserved for INEC National Commissioners.
The commission is now left with a National Commissioner and an Acting Chairman out of the constitutionally approved13 management team (comprising 12 National Commissioners and a Chairman). The REC for Rivers State was reportedly having a running battle with DSS for allegedly withholding materials used in the conduct of the general elections in the state against the ruling of the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal.
On Wednesday, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and some other candidates on the platform of the party, were tear-gassed during a protest at the INEC headquarters to demand for the release of the documents.
Hajiya Zakari who addressed the opening session, noted that the commission was experiencing challenges in the management of the various cases before the election petition tribunals.
She enjoined the commission to take caution, adding, “we shall continue to uphold our role of an independent, non-partisan and unbiased umpire. “We must ensure that we act according to the rules and remain above board, as well as cooperate with all stakeholders to ensure free, fair and un-interrupted dispensation of justice.”
-Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja