By Michael Oche,
Leading Civil Society Organisations and election observer groups have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as a national Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The members of the CSO numbering 14 said should the President fail to withdraw the nomination, the civil society will take legal actions to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate.
The executive Director of Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre, Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu and Executive Director of Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), who spoke on behalf of the other CSO made this known while addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
The CSOs include YIAGA Africa, Centre for Democracy Development (CDD), RULAAC, HEDA, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) among others.
The groups said the nomination does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.
Nwagwu said, “We, the concerned members of the- Civil Society write to put you on notice of our displeasure and disagreement with the letter from the President to the Senate of the Federal Republic nominating Ms Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner for INEC.
“We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country, the 1999 Nigeria constitution (As amended) in the 3rd schedule, part 2f, paragraph 14(b) expressly provides that National Electoral Commissioners of INEC, shall be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who shall be nominated by the president.
“It is important to note that 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.
“This status should remain so in order to maintain the sacredness of that institution.
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 and anyone that disagrees with her position through the media.”
He said further that as civil society actors and veterans in election observation in the country, having contributed to the electoral gains in Nigeria, the CSOs 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.
He said, “We appeal on Mr President to reconsider this nomination as it does not serve the nation any good. We strongly suggest that 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.”