INEC: Melaye, CSOs reject Onochie, Buhari’s nominee

A three-time member of the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind the nomination of his Special Assistant on Social Media, Ms Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday announced Lauretta Onochie and three others as nominees as National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission in a letter he read on the floor of the Senate.

Melaye in a statement described the nomination as unconstitutional, an affront on the patience of Nigerians and an insult to the institution of INEC.

“She is biased as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), hence this is an affront on the patience of Nigerians and insults to the electoral umpire as an institution.

“I hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind her nomination forwarded to the Senate today otherwise I will mobilise Nigerians to challenge this decision, which is unconstitutional,” Melaye said.

He submitted that by nominating Onochie as INEC National Commissioner, President Buhari has violated the 1999 Constitution, which he swore to uphold at all times.

“It’s a known fact of law that Item F, Paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) clearly forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.”

In a similar statement,  a coalition of Civil Society Organizations also asked President Buhari to withdraw her nomination.

The statement signed by Faith  Nwadishi, Executive Director,  Center for Transparency and  Advocacy, DVOCACY (CTA)

Samson  Itodo, Yiaga Africa, FRICA

Vivian Bello of Socia Action amongst ten others argued that nominating a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress as INEC National Commissioner would cast a slur on the integrity of the electoral umpire and subsequent elections in the country.

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They further expressed that the gains recorded in the electoral process in recent times would be eroded.

The statement read in part:” Whereas it has come to our notice the nomination of Lauretta Onochie by President Muhammadu Buhari as a National Commissioner of INEC, via a letter sent to the senate leadership for screening and confirmation on 13th October 2020, we completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.

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

“Whereas, 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.

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 confrontations with opposition elements through the media.

“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.

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.

We, therefore, call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and in the alternative call on the Senate to act as gatekeepers by not confirming this appointment.”





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