By Joseph Erunke, Abuja
Some civil society groups on Thursday described the nomination of Lauretta Onochie by President Muhammadu Buhari as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as a flagrant disrespect for the sanctity of the Nigerian Constitution.
Non-governmental organizations actively involved in the country’s political process also said that the president’s action was an affront to the sensitivity of Nigerians.
At a press conference in Abuja, the groups that make up the Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center; Center for the Defense of Transparency; Center for Democracy and Development; Yiaga Africa; Social action; The Resource Center on the Rule of Law and Accountability, among others, threatened legal action if Ms. Onochie’s nomination was not immediately withdrawn.
* We appeal and make a call to the Presidency to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and, or alternatively, civil society take legal action to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic ”, they threatened.
According to the groups, “Any national commissioner of the INEC must enjoy the trust and confidence of all parties involved (Government and Opposition), Ms. Onochie failed this critical test with her various open and toxic confrontations with elements of the opposition and anyone who does not agree with your position through the media. “
Speaking through the Executive Director, Peering Advocacy and Advancement Center, Ezenwa Nwagwu and Faith Nwadishi, and the Executive Director, Center for Transparency Advocacy, Faith Nwadishi, the groups said: “We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well with system gains. electoral in the country ”.
The text prepared by the group to circulate among journalists reads: “We, the concerned members of civil society, write to notify you of our dissatisfaction and disagreement with the letter from the President to the Senate of the Federal Republic in which he nominates Ms. Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner of INEC.
“We completely reject this nomination, which does not fit in well with the recent advances in the electoral system in the country.
“The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (Amended) in the 3rd annex, part 2f, paragraph 14 (b) expressly establishes that the National Electoral Commissioners of INEC, will be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who will be nominated by the president.
“It is important to point out that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC is an independent body that supervises the electoral processes in the country without any affiliation to any of the political parties. It should not have any member of its governing bodies identified as a person sympathetic to any politics. party.
“This state must continue to be so in order to maintain the sacred character of that institution.
“We are therefore concerned that Lauretta Onochie, an active aide to the president who openly supports the president and his political party, has been nominated for the position of National Commissioner, INEC.
“Any National Commissioner of INEC must enjoy the trust and confidence of all the parties involved (Government and Opposition), Ms. Onochie failed this critical test with her various open and toxic confrontations with elements of the opposition and anyone who is not according to his position through the media.
“We see this as an affront to the sensitivity of Nigerians and a complete lack of respect for the sanctity of the Nigerian constitution.
“As civil society actors and veterans in the observation of elections in the country, having contributed to the electoral achievements in Nigeria, we condemn this nomination and affirm that this will erode the progress we have made in our electoral reforms and will throw criticism on the sincerity of the Presidents to ensure a reformed electoral process in the country. We call on the President to reconsider this appointment, as it does not benefit the nation.
We strongly suggest that if the president feels so convinced to reward Lauretta Onochie for her loyalty and unconditional support, there are other appointment areas that the president can consider, but certainly not INEC. Doing the opposite means altering the INEC’s non-partisanship agreement.
“With this statement we appeal and call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and or alternatively, civil society will take legal action to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic.”