An association of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, have on Wednesday, warned the Senate against confirming a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Presidential Aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to protect the 2023 general elections, .
They also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to in the interest of the public, withdraw Onochie’s nomination.
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, a Board member of YIAGA Africa, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, said that Onochie’s appointment would also jeopardise the trust of other political parties in the supposed independent Commission.
His words: “As Civil Society Organisations working to support Nigeria’s journey towards democratic consolidation by promoting electoral integrity, we collectively demand that the Senate rejects 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.”
He 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 (1) (a) and 66 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
”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, withdraws the nomination of Onochie in the public interest.”
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