By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah,
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw Mrs Lauretta Onochie nomination as an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) national commissioner.
In a statement by its spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, stated that the nominee is too partisan to be an electoral commissioner.
According to him, opposition political parties, civil society organisations and indeed all Nigerians received Onochie’s nomination with shock and disbelief because the nominee is partisan, contrary to the nation’s constitution.
Besides being a presidential aide, he noted that Onochie is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ward 5, Onicha Olona, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Ugochinyere explained that according to Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission “shall be non-partisan”.
From the foregoing, he noted it is crystal clear that a card-carrying member of a registered political party or a well-known supporter of a particular political party is constitutionally disqualified from the membership of commission.
He said “The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) therefore declares the nomination of an APC member into INEC as provocative. It is not only an invitation to electoral crisis in 2023, but also a discretion of the sanctity of the ballot box and a foundation for electoral doom that is capable of sinking Nigeria’s democracy in 2023.
“Our position is that there is no way the outcome of an election will be acceptable when a known member of the ruling party sits among those saddled with the responsibility of conducting the election.
“Opposition political parties are of the view that Buhari is laying the foundation for political violence ahead of the 2023 election. It is our fear that the crisis that will engulf Nigeria may make the electoral crisis of 1963 and 1983 a child’s play if Onochie’s nomination is not withdrawn.
“We shall start mobilising Nigerians and indeed lovers of the country ahead of 2023 to prepare for mother of all civil action against the outcome of the election if this APC member is not rejected by the Senate.
“We state in clear terms that the CUPP rejects the nomination of Onochie, an APC member into INEC and we call on either President Buhari to withdraw the nomination or the Senate to reject the confirmation.
“In this regard, we call on opposition lawmakers to mobilise for mother of parliamentary battle and ensure that the nomination is shut down in case it is not withdrawn.
“Beyond the non-eligibility of the nominee to hold that position because of her partisanship, opposition political parties also notice that her nomination and those of others did not follow the due process.
He said the constitution saddled the Council of State the responsibility of advising the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to the appointment of members to the commission.
Accordingly, It is therefore illegal to send nominees to the Senate for screening without first sending such nominations to the Council of State.
In appointing members of INEC, the CUPP spokesman said the President is required to consult with the Council of State pursuant to Section 154 (3) of the Constitution. Paragraph B of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution provides that “The Council of State shall have the power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to (iv) the Independent National Electoral Commission including the appointment of the members of the Commission.”
“We therefore urge the President to withdraw all the nominations he made in violation of this provision and first send them to the Council of State as recommended by the constitution.
“This country is governed by the law and the President and his government cannot choose which laws to obey and which one to disobey,” he added.