In further effort to help the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be rightly guided as it finally takes the bold step to screen and confirm the President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination, Lauretta Onochie, among others, as National Commissioner for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), legal practitioners from YUSUF DANKOFA & CO have written the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan in support of the woman of integrity.
This was contained in a letter addressed to the Senate President title, “LEGAL ISSUES IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S APPOINTMENT OF LAURETTA ONOCHIE AS A NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)”, and copy of which was obtained by Vanguard.
The lawyers, according to the letter, said: “We have observed with dismay, the the ferocious and atrocious attempt s at misleading this august body by some NGOs through some of their petitions against the nominee, which is neither rooted in Law nor Equity.
“Some of the interpretations of the Constitutional provisions on the grounds of their demands are no doubt perverse interpretation of law to suit their prejudices and personal idiosyncrasies.
“We are of the view that keeping quiet in the face of this misleading legal submission by the petitioners will not promote justice, hence this intervention by us.”
On Onochie possessing dual citizenship (Nigerian and British citizen) as pointed by the petitioners against her nomination, the Legal Practitioners argued that the point is baseless and does not apply in the case of Onochie, who is a Nigerian by birth.
“With all sense of professionalism, we emphatically assert that this is not only incorrect, it has no basis under our Jurisprudence. It is axiomatic that a Nigerian with dual citizenship can contest for any election in Nigeria or given appointment to hold any office in Nigeria.
“To resolve this logjam, the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) on citizenship must be examined.
“Section 28 of the Constitution clearly provides that a person who is a Nigerian citizen by birth can have dual citizenship and be a citizen of another country.
“It is only a Nigeria citizen by naturalisation or registration who is also a citizen of another country that loses his citizenship of Nigeria.
“Thus, the key determinant here is citizenship by birth. A person that is a citizen of Nigeria can afford to have another citizenship from another country and this will not jeopardise his or her citizenship….”
Clarifying on her non-partisanship, the legal practitioners submitted that the fact that Lauretta Onochie is a serving public servant to Mr. President does not make her partisan.
“As a matter of sound democratic practice, a President can appoint any personal or public aide across party lines or affiliation and that will not confer partisanship in that person.
“Besides, what confers partisanship ? The Courts have opined that before partisanship can be determined, such a person must be a card carrying member of a registered political party. The onus to prove whether Lauretta Onochie is a card carrying member of any political party therefore rest on her accusers. From what we can gather from our own investigation as Public Interests’ Advocates, Lauretta Onochie is not a card carrying member of any political party and being a Presidential aide to Mr. President does not confer any party affiliation on her,” they wrote.
The Human Rights Lawyers concluded that the entire petitions against Onochie are “unmeritorious, frivolous, mundane, profane and an attempt at irritating and rubbishing the image of a patriotic Nigerian.”
They urged the Senate to consider their submission and discountenance the grounds of the petitioners against Onochie’s nomination, “as all are empty without proper foundation of Law.”