A newly confirmed National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) (South-south), Rhoda Gumus, has threatened to sue SaharaReporters over a report stating her affiliation with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
This was contained in a letter signed on her behalf by the law firm, Adams Fasingha & Co., and obtained by SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters had reported how President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Gumus, a card-carrying member of the APC as a national commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Buhari had in December announced his choice of Rhoda Gumus, an engineering professor at Niger-Delta University, to replace Lauretta Onochie, his social media aide.
The replacement followed controversies generated by Onochie’s nomination, which was hinged on her party affiliation.
The Nigerian Senate rejected her nomination.
But on December 14, Buhari asked the Senate to confirm Gumus as Onochie’s replacement for INEC commissioner representing the South-South geopolitical zone.
However, Gumus’ registration documents sighted by SaharaReporters confirm that she is a member of the ruling party.
The nomination is in breach of the 1999 constitution as amended and the Electoral Act.
According to the document, she became a member of the APC on March 27, 2021 and membership number is 58315.
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) had written a petition against Gumus’ nomination.
In a petition dated January 26, 2022, signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and addressed to the Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the group urged the National Assembly to reject her nomination in the interest of the country.
The rights group warned the National Assembly to guard against the confirmation of Gumus so as not to set the stage for a very huge political crisis capable of derailing the country’s democratic process.
But reacting in the letter, the lawyers claimed their client, Gumus was non-partisan, claiming that Buhari had nominated her because of her academic track record.
The lawyers also claimed that their client’s photo was superimposed on a fake register and membership slip.
They further stated that the newspaper should retract the article within 14 days failure of which will attract a lawsuit.
The document reads in part, “We write as solicitors to Mrs. Rhoda Gumus, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Niger Delta University, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, who shall ‘hereinafter be referred to as our client’ in the above stated subject matter and in her stern instructions convey as follows:
“1. That our client is a Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Niger- Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State.
“That our client is non Partisan and does not belong to any known Political Party in Nigeria including the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“That because of the Academic track records of our client, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari nominated her as a Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission in sometime December 2021 and forwarded same to the National Assembly for confirmation.
“That our client was shocked and traumatized to hear that her name was published in two purported print media that she was a card-carrying member of the APC.
“For the records, it is clear that such manifest falsehood is geared towards misleading the general public and drag her good name into the mud.
“That our client has discovered that her picture was super-imposed to a fake register and membership slip.
“That in the said purported register her signature was forged and thumb-printed like an illiterate jurat.
“That similarly her name in the said register was concocted without a voters registration number which ought to be in all membership cards/slip.”
“Take notice therefore that your media house is given an ultimatum of 14 days to retract your libelous, false and misleading article and publish same in two National Daily Newspapers in Nigeria. The said Ultimatum shall take effect from 10th February 2022 to 23rd February 2022.
“Take further notice that where you are adamant and refuse to retract this malicious publication, we shall be left with no other alternative than to institute this matter in a court of law of competent jurisdiction,” it added.