Osun state nominee for National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Raheem Muideen maybe having too many baggages that may not qualify him for the position of a Commissioner at the Commission.
The Senate committee asked him to return back in two days for more interrogation on his qualification or otherwise for his job.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for his confirmation screening after his nomination by President Muhammadu Bihari, the 46-year-old academic told the committee that he is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Besides declaring his interest for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) thereby confirming a petition against his nomination by one Oyebade Adebisi Abideen alleging that he has open support for a particular political party which negates part of constitutional criteria for INEC Commissioner.
Member of the Senate screening panel Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) pointed out that committee cannot be seen to be endorsing a violation of the Nigerian constitutional which clearly provides that occupant of the office of the INEC Commissioner must be apolitical.
Muideen who was taken off-guard by the last-minute surface of the petition against his nomination failed repeatedly to respond favourably to questions that may have offered him a soft landing as the Senators repeatedly sought to make him explain his membership of the party.
Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano Central) had sought to know if the nominee was a former member of the APC and when he last appeared at her function?
Still dazed by the impact of the petition which deflated his confidence while fielding questions from the Senate panel the nominee faltered severally as he tried to extricate himself from the allegation.
He claimed he left politics in 2013 to return to school and study psychology at advance level but when accosted with pictures of his campaign in 2017 in support of a particular governorship aspirant, he struggled to explain that the group named “tiwa tiwa” was a band of members of multi-political leanings but favourably disposed to the candidature of his financier who belonged to a pool party.
According to him “I am a member of APC. I am a member of APC and I contested for local government chairmanship in 2013.
“In 2015, I left politics and moved on to the University of Ibadan to go and study psychology.
“I had the card then when I had the intention of contesting for election. On the question, if I was a DG of a contestant, Yes I was DG of a contestant in 2017.” Muideen stated
Members of the panel could not reconcile the claim that he left politics in 2013 but led the campaign of Al candidate in 2017.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya asked him what the term “DG” stand for and if he was part of the campaign, he responded thus: “Director-General, Yes, I was part of the campaign.”
In spite of the efforts of the committee members to help him with leading questions on his membership being old and not being in possession of the party membership card, the nominee still maintained his loyalty to the All Progressives Congress.
Speaking with Tribune after the session, Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya said: “Today the committee in INEC meet today and we’re able to meet the three committees sent by the President and referred to us in the committee to screen and report back to the Senate.
“All the nominee were invited to the committee and we were able to screen them.
“They were asked questions and they answered to the best of their ability, there were no petition for the two of the candidates Mr. Johnson Siriken and Alhaji Aminu Guram.
“There was a petition against Alhaji Muideen Olalekan from Osun state based on constitutional provision of the Act which said the President should nominate present Commissioners of INEC of people of integrity and good character and they should not be a card-carrying member of any political party.
“For Mr. Olalekan there was a petition against him that he is a member of a political party and that he has ran through campaigns and that he has registered as a member of a political party.
“We asked him questions he defended himself to the best he could, there is still more to ask from him we have given him two days to come back to us for more discussions, Gaya stated.
Asked if the committee would refer the matter to the Department of State Security for Independent investigation, he said the committee will be guided by the Constitution and referred him back to the Senate for further screening.