By John Nwokocha Abuja
Agitations by rights activists in Nigeria against the nomination of Ms Lauretta Onochie as national Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC continued Thursday with a coalition of human rights bodies vowing to carry their agitations to the next level of sending a formal letter of disapproval of the nomination to the leadership of the national assembly.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Thursday, Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, leader of the coalition said her nomination by President muhammadu Buhari was an affront to the sensibilities of Nigerians and total disrespect to the sanctity of the Nigerian constitution
“We, the concerned members of the- Civil Society write to put you on notice of our displeasure and disagreement with the letter from the President to the Senate of the Federal Republic nominating Ms Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner for INEC.
“We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.
the 1999 Nigeria constitution (As amended) in the 3rd schedule, part 2f, paragraph 14(b) expressly provides that National Electoral Commissioners of INEC, shall be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable integrity, who shall be nominated by the president”. Nwagwu said.
Speaking further he emphasis that
“It is important to note that 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.
“This status should remain so in order to maintain the sacredness of that institution”.
Saying they are miffed by Mr President’s nomination the coalition stated:
“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 and toxic confrontations with opposition elements and anyone that disagrees with her position 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.
“We appeal on Mr President to reconsider this nomination as it does not serve the nation any good.
We strongly suggest that If the President feels so strongly to reward Lauretta Onochie for her loyalty and die-hard support, there are other areas of appointment the president can consider, but certainly not INEC. “To do otherwise means upsetting INEC’s arrangement of non-partisanship.
“By this statement, we appeal and call on the President to withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and or in the alternative the civil society will take legal actions to ensure that this nomination is not confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic.
Answering questions from reporters Faith Nwadishi, Executive director, Center for Transparency and Advocacy CTA stressed that the rights activists were set to resist Onochie’s confirmation, adding they would use all peaceful and constitutional means to express their displeasure until the nomination is withdrawn by President Buhari.
Other members of the Coalition are:
IDAYAT HASSAN ED, CENTRE FOR DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT (CDD)
SAMSON ITODO ED, YIAGA AFRICA
VIVIAN BELLO ED, SOCIAL ACTION
OLAREWAJU SURAJ ED, HEDA RESOURCE CENTER
OKECHUKWU NWANGUMA ED, RULE OF LAW AND ACCOUNTABILITY ADVOCACY CENTRE. RULAAC
ZIKIRULLAHI IBRAHIM ED, Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED)
- ABIOLA AKIODE ED, WARDC
COMFORT ATTAH ED, ASHH FOUNDATION, BAUCHI
ADEMOLA ADEBISI ED, VALUE REORIENTATION FOR COMMUNITY ENHANCEMENT, OSUN
HASSAN WURNO ED, EDUCATIONAL EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVES OF NIGERIA, EEIN, SOKOTO
HABILA MUHAMMAD KUDU ED, NETWORK FOR PEACE AND INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT, NPID, NIGER