CSOs Reject Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

Lauretta Onochie

A consortium of Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday asked the Senate to reject the nomination of an aide to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Mrs Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission.

They also called on the President to withdraw Onochie’s nomination in public interest.

The organisations warned that her appointment would undermine citizens’ confidence in INEC and increase mistrust in the commission.

The organisations include YIAGA Africa, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa, International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, The Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Centre for Democracy and Development and CLEEN Foundation.

Addressing a joint press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, a board member, YIAGA Africa, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said Onochie’s appointment would also jeopardise the trust of other political parties in the commission.

He said, “As Civil Society Organisations working to support Nigeria’s journey towards democratic consolidation by promoting electoral integrity, we collectively demand that the Senate reject the nomination of Mrs Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner in INEC.

“She does not meet the constitutional requirements of being non-partisan (as defined by Section 156(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) to be nominated as an INEC National Commissioner.

“She is not only a Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, she is also a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

”Such an appointment will undermine citizens’ confidence in INEC, increase mistrust in the Commission and Nigeria’s electoral process. It will also jeopardise the trust of other political parties in the Commission.”

Nwagwu added that Onochie is not qualified to be appointed as INEC’s National Commissioner based on the fact that she is a British citizen, thus falling short of the constitutional requirements for being appointed to that position as stated in Sections 156(1a) and 66(1a) of the 1999 Constitution.

He added, ”Further proof of Mrs. Onochie being a British citizen is contained in the fact that until recently, she was a full, card-carrying member of the British Conservative Party, contested elections for a councillorship position in Thames Ward in the London Borough of Barking and Degenham in 2010 as a member of the UK Conservative Party.

”Also, her appointment negates the Federal Character principle as provided in Sections 14(3) and 14(4) of the 1999 Constitution as Delta State is already represented by Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, who currently serves as National Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission.

We also demand that to the President as a matter of urgency, withdraw the nomination of Onochie in the public interest.”

THE PUNCH

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