Fred Ezeh, Abuja
A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has kicked against the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The CSOs reminded the President that Onochie is a card carrying member of APC and has had what they characterised as ‘toxic confrontations with opposition elements’, calling her appointment an affront to Nigerians, while suggesting that it discredits the non-partisan mandate of the electoral Commission.
Faith Nwadishi, the Executive Director, Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), who conveyed the position of the CSOs at a press conference in Abuja, on Thursday, called the attention of the President to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) in the 3rd schedule, part 2f, paragraph 14(b), which stipulates that INEC Commissioners be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who shall be nominated by the President.
‘It’s important to note that INEC, being an independent body overseeing the electoral processes in Nigeria 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,’ Nwadishi stated.
‘INEC National Commissioners should enjoy the trust and confidence of all parties concerned, ruling and opposition. Onochie failed this critical test with her several open and toxic confrontations with opposition elements and anyone that disagrees with her position through the media. It’s an affront to the sensibilities of Nigerians and total disrespect to the sanctity of the Nigerian constitution.
‘As Civil Society actors and veterans in election observation in Nigeria, having contributed to the electoral gains in Nigeria, we condemn this nomination and affirm that this will erode the gains made so far in electoral reforms, and also cast aspersions on the sincerity of the President in ensuring a reformed electoral process in the country.’
They suggested that the President withdraw Onochie’s nomination, threatening to take legal action against the nomination and also ensure that she fails to scale through confirmation process in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement by its President, Rev Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, has also come out against Onochie’s appointment, saying:
‘When President Buhari promised legacy of free, fair and credible election, Nigerians were happy and CAN has been praying for God to grant him the grace to do so. But the nomination of his personal aide to such a sensitive position may have revealed the type of electoral legacy the President is working on.
‘As far as CAN is concerned, Onochie suffers objectivity, justice and fairness that are mandatory for every member of INEC as a result of her partisan membership of a political party and by being an appointee of the ruling party.’