By Henry Umoru
FOURTEEN leading Civil Society Organisations, CSOs have taken a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari following his nomination of his Special Assistant, Social Media, Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for Screening and subsequent confirmation.
Also yesterday, Senator Dino Melaye who represented Kogi West in the Senate 8th Senate and early part of the present 9th Senate, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Melaye described the nomination as unconstitutional, affront on the patience of Nigerians and an insult to the institution of INEC
In a statement yesterday, the 14 CSOs while reacting to the development, said that the nomination did not go well with the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.
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 titled, ” Nomination of Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner INEC”, read “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.”
On his part, Senator Melaye in a statement titled, ” Rescind Your Nomination Of Lauretta Onochie As INEC National Commissioner, read, “She is biased as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), hence this is an affront on the patience of Nigerians and insult to the electoral umpire as an institution.
“I hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind her nomination forwarded to the Senate today otherwise I will mobilise Nigerians to challenge this decision, which is unconstitutional.”
Melaye who noted that by nominating Onochie as INEC National Commissioner, President Buhari has violated the 1999 Constitution, which he swore to uphold at all times, said, “It’s a known fact of law that Item F, Paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly forbids a card carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC ”