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Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner Is Unconstitutional, Reject It, CSOs Tell Senate

A consortium of Civil Society Organisations has asked the Nigerian Senate to reject the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, an aide to the President Muhammadu Buhari, as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

They said her nomination is unconstitutional and would also jeopardise the trust of other political parties in the commission, if she is confirmed.

The organisations 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, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Centre for Democracy and Development and CLEEN Foundation.

Addressing a joint press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, a board member, YIAGA Africa, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, called on the President to withdraw Onochie’s nomination in public interest.

Nwagwu pointed out that Onochie is not qualified to be appointed as INEC’s National Commissioner based on the fact that she is a British citizen, and therefore does not satisfy the constitutional requirements for appointment to that position as stated in Sections 156(1a) and 66(1a) of the 1999 Constitution.

He added, ”Further proof of Mrs. Onochie being a British citizen is contained in the fact that until recently, she was a full, card-carrying member of the British Conservative Party, contested elections for a councillorship position in Thames Ward in the London Borough of Barking and Degenham in 2010 as a member of the UK Conservative Party.

This apart, he stated that “She 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.

”She is not only a Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, she is also a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress.”

According to him, her appointment would jeopardise the trust other political parties have in INEC.

”Also, her appointment negates the Federal Character principle as provided in Sections 14(3) and 14(4) of the 1999 Constitution as Delta State is already represented by Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, who currently serves as National Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

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