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A human right group, Concerned Nigeria has petitioned the President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan requesting that the Senate should reject the imminent confirmation of Laureta Onochie as an INEC commissioner.
Onochie, a personal assistant to the president on social media, was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but many Nigerians, including civil society organisations (CSOs), are insisting that the National Assembly should not confirm her.
Eight months after her nomination, Ahmad Lawan, Senate President, asked the Committee on INEC to commence the screening process.
In the Monday letter by Concerned Nigerians, the group said Onochie’s nomination goes contrary to the provisions of the constitution, which prohibit nomination of partisan people for the office.
The group expressed concern that Mrs Onochie is a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a political aide of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The letter signed by its Convener, Comrade Deji Adeyanju reads, “We write, in our capacity, as a citizen-led human rights organisation to offer a timely warning on the proposed confirmation of Ms. Lauretta Onochie as an INEC commissioner, in clear violation of the provisions of the extant Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“In the same vein, we urge you to immediately clear Professor Sani Adams, a professor of law who is eminently qualified to be a national commissioner and other Nigerians on the list.
“It is public knowledge that Ms. Onochie is a card-carrying of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a supporter and political aide of the president. We find it very worrisome that the Senate, under your leadership, appears to have made up its mind to confirm Ms. Onochie as an INEC Commissioner. You may note that Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, states that a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be non-partisan.
“We wish to draw your attention to the fact that elections in Nigerfa usually determine, to a large extent, the nation’s fate. Accordingly, the Senate must be careful not to set a dangerous precedent with the confirmation of Ms. Onochie, lest a day come when the president of Nigeria may nominate his party chairman as the INEC Chairman.
“If this your proposed action of confirming Ms. Onochie goes on according to plan, it will make many lose hope in elections and democracy in the country. We urge you not to reverse all our democratic gains by this action.
“In the light of the foregoing, we hereby request that you take urgent steps to safeguard the nation’s present and future electoral process, by declining the nomination of Ms. Onochie as an INEC Commissioner.”