Onochie’s nomination into INEC abuse, disrespect on constitution — CSOs

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Some civil society groups, Thursday, described the nomination of Ms Lauretta Onochie by President Muhammadu Buhari as National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as flagrant disrespect to the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution, Vanguard reports.

The non-governmental organisations actively involved in the country’s political process, also said the president’s action was an affront to the sensibilities of Nigerians.

Addressing a media conference in Abuja, the groups comprising Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre; Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Centre for Democracy and Development; Yiaga Africa; Social Action; Rule of Law and Accountability Resource Centre among others, threatened legal action if Ms Onochie’s nomination was not withdrawn immediately.

“We appeal and call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and or in the alternative the civil society will take legal actions to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic,” they threatened.

According to the groups, “Any INEC National commissioner should enjoy the trust and confidence of all parties concerned (Ruling and Opposition), Ms 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.”

Speaking through the Executive Director, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre, Ezenwa Nwagwu and Faith Nwadishi, and the Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Faith Nwadishi, the groups said, “We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.”

The group’s prepared text circulation to newsmen reads:”We, the concerned members of the- Civil Society write to put you on notice of our displeasure and disagreement with the letter from the President to the Senate of the Federal Republic nominating Ms Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner for INEC.

“We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.

“The 1999 Nigeria constitution (As amended) in the 3rd schedule, part 2f, paragraph 14(b) expressly provides that National Electoral Commissioners of INEC, shall be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who shall be nominated by the president.

“It is important to note that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC is an independent body overseeing the electoral processes in the country 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.

“We are therefore troubled that Lauretta Onochie, a serving aide of the president who openly supports the president and his political party, has been nominated to the position of National Commissioner, INEC.

“Any INEC National commissioner should enjoy the trust and confidence of all parties concerned (Ruling and Opposition), Ms 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.

“We see this as 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 the country, having contributed to the electoral gains in Nigeria, we condemn this nomination and affirm that this will erode the gains we have made in our electoral reforms and cast aspersions on the sincerity of the President in ensuring a reformed electoral process in the country. We appeal on Mr President to reconsider this nomination as it does not serve the nation any good.

We strongly suggest that If the President feels so strongly to reward Lauretta Onochie for her loyalty and die-hard support, there are other areas of appointment the president can consider, but certainly not INEC. To do otherwise means upsetting INEC’s arrangement of non-partisanship.

“By this statement, we appeal and call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and or in the alternative the civil society will take legal actions to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic.”

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