- Lauretta Onochie's nomination as a National Commissioner to the Independent National Electoral Commission is still a trending topic in Nigeria
- The country's foremost civil society organisations say the nomination of the presidential aide to serve in the electoral commission is unacceptable
- A petition has been sent to the Nigerian Senate asking senators to reject the Onochie on several grounds highlighted by the organisations
FCT, Abuja - A total of eleven (11) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have rejected the nomination of Ms Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Onochie, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is currently serving as one of the presidential aides to President Muhammadu Buhari.
At a press briefing attended by a Legit.ng reporter in Abuja on Wednesday, June 23, the CSOs said:
“On Tuesday 13 October 2020, the president sent the names of four nominees to the Senate for confirmation as commissioners in INEC. Three of the names were nominated as national commissioners and one as Resident Electoral Commissioner.
“The three nominees for national commissioner are expected to replace national commissioners whose tenure would terminate in November 2020. Following these nominations, CSOs raised major constitutional issues with the nomination of Lauretta Onochie and requested the Senate to reject it forthwith.
“Surprisingly on Wednesday, 9th June 2021, eight months after her nomination, the Senate referred the name of Onochie along with other nominees to its committee on INEC for screening as INEC commissioners.
“As CSOs working to support Nigeria’s journey towards democratic consolidation by promoting electoral integrity, we collectively demand that the Senate reject the nomination of Onochie as a national commissioner in INEC.”
Why Onochie's nomination should be rejected
Legit.ng has summarised the demands of the CSOs on the following grounds:
1. Onochie 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.
2. The Constitution requires that a nominee for the position of INEC national commissioner must be a “person of unquestionable integrity.”
3. Onochie is not qualified to be appointed as INEC’s national commissioner based on the fact that she is a British citizen.
4. The appointment of Onochie who is from Delta as a commissioner for INEC negates the Federal Character principle as provided in Sections 14(3) and 14(4) of the 1999 Constitution as there is already an official at that level in INEC from the state.
The CSOs 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 and Nigerian Women Trust Fund among others.
Meanwhile, some legal practitioners from YUSUF DANKOFA & CO have declared support for Onochie, saying she is a woman of integrity.
The lawyers in a statement seen by Legit.ng on Wednesday, June 23 asked the Senate to confirm Onochie's nomination.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that about eight months after Buhari's nomination of Onochie, the presidential aide has been screened.
Other nominees screened by the Senate are Professor Muhammad Kallah, Kunle Ajayi, Saidu Ahmad, Professor Sani Adam, and Baba Bila.
The committee, chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya, is to supervise the exercise in not more than one month and submit its reports to the Senate afterwards.
NBA questions the rationality behind Onochie's nomination
In a related development, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on the Senate not to consider Onochie as an INEC official due to her affiliation with the APC.
The NBA's head of public interest and development law, Monday Ubani, in a statement, declared that Onochie is unfit for the position due to her political affiliation.
The association also expressed doubt as to whether the council of state was consulted before the nomination according to the provision of section 154 (3) of the constitution.