By Michael Oche, Abuja
Leading Civil Society Organisations and election observer groups have asked the National Assembly not to confirm President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Lauretta Onochie as a Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The groups, 14 of them also asked President Buhari to immediately withdraw the Onochie’s nomination which was announced Tuesday.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, the group’s while reacting to the development said the nomination breached the neutrality of INEC, due to the partisan posturing of the nominee.
“We, therefore, call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and in the alternative call on the Senate to act as gatekeepers by not confirming this appointment.”
The leaders of the civil societies who signed the statement include executive director of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center, Convener of Say No Campaign, Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, executive director Center for Democracy, Idayat Hassan, executive director Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) Faith Nwadishi among others.
The statement reads in part: “Whereas it has come to our notice the nomination of Lauretta Onochie by President Muhammadu Buhari as a National Commissioner of INEC, via a letter sent to the senate leadership for screening and confirmation on 13th October 2020, we completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.
“Whereas the 1999 Nigeria constitution (As amended) in the 3rd schedule, part 2f, paragraph 14(b) provides that National Electoral Commissioners of INEC, shall be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who shall be nominated by the president.
“Whereas, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, is an independent body overseeing the electoral processes in the country without any affiliation to any of the political parties should not have any of its governing bodies member identified as a person sympathetic to any political party.
“We are therefore troubled that Lauretta Onochie, a serving aide of the President who openly supports the president and his political party, has been nominated to the position of National Commissioner, INEC. Any INEC National commissioner should enjoy the trust and confidence of all parties concerned (Ruling and Opposition), Ms. Onochie failed this critical test with her several open confrontations with opposition elements through the media.
“As civil society actors and veterans in election observation in the country, having contributed to the electoral gains in Nigeria, we condemn this nomination and affirm that this will erode the gains we have made in our electoral reforms and cast aspersions on the sincerity of the President in ensuring a reformed electoral process in the country.
“If the President feels so strongly to reward Lauretta Onochie for her loyalty and die-hard support, there are other areas of appointment the president can consider, but certainly not INEC. To do otherwise means upsetting INEC’s arrangement of non-partisanship.”