Buhari under fire over Onochie ‘s nomination as INEC Commissioner 

… CSOs demand immediate withdrawal of President’ s aide from list

By Ezeocha Nzeh 

President Muhammadu Buhari has received knocks from stakeholders,  following his nomination of his Special Assistant on new media,  Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 

The President has early Tuesday forwarded the name of Onochie and three others as national commissioners of INEC,  to replace those who have served out their tenures 

Onochie,  a die – hard supporter of President Buhari and his running All Progressives Congress (APC) is currently serving as the President’s media aide

Rejecting her nomination In a statement issued Tuesday,  members of various Civil Society Organizations said the nomination negates the provisions of the nation’s constitution,  which stated very clearly that appointment into INEC must not be partisan 

The numerous CSOs which signed the statement included Center for Democracy and Development) CDD), Perering ADVOCACY and Advancement Center,  Center for Transparncy Advocacy (CTA),  Yiaga frica, Social Action, HBD Resource Centre,  and many others stated, 

“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. ”

The CSOs advised the President to immediately withdraw Onochies nomination,  noting,  “If the President feels so strongly to reward Lauretta Onochie for her loyalty and die-hard support, there are other areas of appointment he can consider, but certainly not INEC. To do otherwise means upsetting INEC’s arrangement of non-partisanship” 

They also urged the Senate to save the nation’s democracy  by refusing to approve Onochie’s nomination,  if the President refuses to withdraw her nomination.

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