In a statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said appointing at least eight dead people as board members would seem to suggest that the 1,467 appointments approved by the president were unscreened for competence and merit.
The appointments of 209 board chairpersons and 1,258 board members were announced on Friday.
The third was the late founder of Fidei Polytechnic, Rev. Christopher Utov.
Mr Shehu explained that the names of the deceased persons on the list came about because it was compiled by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir David Lawal.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has urged Nigerians to keep hope alive on the ability of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to take the economy through a remarkable turnaround.
A merit-appointment system would produce a better qualified board, and ultimately improve the governance architecture and access of Nigerians to essential public services.
Reacting to the uproar on social media, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in a recorded interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), obtained by Olisa Blogazine on Saturday said the list had been prepared since October, 2016 but was never made public due to the health challenges faced by the president.
Eric Garner's activist daughter in coma after heart attack
Garner's father, Eric Garner , died while he was being arrested in Tompkinsville for allegedly selling loose cigarettes in 2014. The New York Daily News reported that Erica Garner was declared brain dead with no chance of recovery.
He said the president requested for the submission of 50 names each by the state chapters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2015, which were later compiled by the national secretariat of the party.
"However, complaint arose from some Governors who felt they were not carried along in the process".
"Now that he is back and strong, he asked the SGF to go and release the list.
Furthermore, the mix up in the list also exposes the corruption in the APC government", he said.
"The list has a history which explains the controversy around it".
The Presidency on Sunday informed Nigerians that President Buhari will address the nation by 7 am on New Year's Day without giving further details.