A coalition of civil society groups in Nigeria has written to the National Assembly urging it to reject the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner into Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a letter titled: Petition Opposing President Buhari’s Appointment of Lauretta Onochie As A National Commissioner Of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and dated June 16, 2021, the group is also urging the president to withdraw her nomination in the interest of the public, adding that her withdrawal will further strengthen the trust bestowed on the Commission by the citizens and election stakeholders in the country.
Recall that Mrs Onochie who is currently the Special Assistant to the President on social media was among the three nominees sent to the Senate on Tuesday 13 October 2020 requesting her confirmation as INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Delta State.
According to the group, given her antecedents, it is highly unlikely that she will remain neutral and that her appointment will greatly undermine the neutrality and impartiality of the INEC and it will increase mistrust in the commission and the country’s electoral process.
To this, the group has faulted her nomination saying it is against the country’s constitution.
“The President before appointing an individual as INEC national commissioner must first consult the Council of State before forwarding the
nomination to the Senate for confirmation,” the group stated.
“The fundamental question is whether the President consulted with the Council of State before submitting to the Senate a letter nominating Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as INEC’s National Commissioner?.
“A confirmation by the Senate without the input of the State Council is unconstitutional.
“The constitution mandates that a person nominated as an INEC National Commissioner should be non-partisan.
“Section 156(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly prohibits the
appointment of any person who is a member of a political party as a member of INEC.”
While the Senate is yet to commence with the screening of the nominees, the group is trusting the legislative arm to” ensure proper scrutiny and due diligence is exercised in the confirmation
of nominations into the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and that
the principle of Federal Character is protected in order to guarantee inclusiveness and promote national unity amongst Nigerians.”