The nominee, Dr. Oliver Agundu said the petition, which purportedly said he is partisan was the handiwork of enemies to first of all tarnish his image and stop his appointment as Resident Electoral Commissioner by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Agundu reacted to the petition against him by a group operating under the aegis of the National Forum for Strict Adherence to Justice (NAFSAJ) on Tuesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya.
The petition dated 17th July, 2022, and signed by Tordoo Akuma, addressed to the chairman of the Committee, said they have evidence that Dr. Agundu, a lecturer at the Benue State University, who is now INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner nominee for Benue State is an alleged registered member of the PDP.
Part of the petition read: “Therefore, in reference to the Nigerian Constitution, his nomination violates paragraph 14 part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states that a member of INEC shall be non-partisan”.
He insisted that the petition constituted false allegations that cannot be proven anywhere.
“Basically, I feel that this is a false and fake petition aimed at tarnishing my image and possibly seeking for distinguished Senators to stop my nomination,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator representing Cross River North, Senator Jarigbe Agom, a member of the Committee put it succinctly, “We have listened to you and we have no doubt that you are an erudite scholar as young as you are, that means the sky is the limit.”
“We have no doubt as to your qualification, capacity and competence and you are eminently qualified and I can say that there is conflicting information in the petition, therefore, I urge this Committee to throw away this petition because it is dead on arrival,” Agom said.
On his part, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Philip Aduda also questioned the integrity of the petition, pointing that the alleged petition had discrepancies.
“I am worried because this petitioner is trying to tarnish the image of my party, PDP.
“The petitioner stated that Agundu’s membership card of 2020 was signed by our current Chairman, distinguished Senator Iyorchia Ayu, whereas he assumed office in 2022. This is unacceptable and it’s a forgery as well. We will have to invite the petitioners to explain further,” Aduda State.
In his remarks, the chairman of the Senate INEC Committee, Kabiru Gaya asked the Benue INEC nominee to take a bow and leave.