By Williams Anuku, Abuja
No fewer than 14 prominent Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating one of his aides, Lauretta Onochie as one of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC Commissioners.
One of the groups, Centre For Transparency Advocacy (CTA) said on Tuesday in Abuja, that the appointment may erode gains already being achieved by the electoral umpire, INEC.
While quoting sections of the Constitution, the CSOs stated that Onochie being a partisan personality was not competent to occupy such office as one of INEC’s National Commissioners.
They, therefore, suggested that the President withdraws the nomination with immediate effect, while the National National Assembly members act as gatekeepers to check this perceived anomaly.
Their rejection letter read, “Re: Nomination of Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner INEC
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.
“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”.