A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating an “unrepentant” member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Falana was reacting to Buhari’s nomination of his personal assistant and firm supporter of the APC, Lauretta Onochie, as the INEC National Commissioner for Delta State.
Buhari had also sought the Senate’s confirmation of the following persons as INEC commissioners: Mohammed Sani (Katsina), Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).
According to the senior advocate, the president’s nomination of Onochie contravenes provisions of the amended 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
He said in a press release, “In appointing the members of the INEC the President is required to consult with the Council of State pursuant to section 154 (3) of the Constitution;
“Paragraph B of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution provides that “The Council of State shall have power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to (iv) the Independent National Electoral Commission including the appointment of the members of the Commission.
“Pursuant to section 154 (1) of the Constitution, the appointment of the members of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate;
“Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission “shall be non-partisan””.
Falana, therefore, said that, “From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that a card-carrying member of a registered political party or a well known supporter of a particular political party is constitutionally disqualified from the membership of the Independent National Electoral Commission. As an unrepentant member of the ruling party Mrs Loretta Onochie has consistently attacked members of other political parties. To that extent, she is partisan and therefore not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
THE WHISTLER had reported that Onochie’s nomination was also rejected by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, which is a coalition of over 70 civil society organizations.
Situation Room noted that, “Item F, paragraph 14 of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) forbids a partisan politician as a member of INEC – a body charged under the Constitution to unbiasedly conduct free and fair elections,” adding that Onochie’s nomination, “amounts to a major attempt at undermining efforts to build credibility for an improved electoral process in the country.”