Don’t confirm Onochie as INEC commissioner – Concerned Nigerians cautions Senate

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A civil society group, Concerned Nigerians has cautioned the Senate against confirming the appointment of Lauretta Onochie, a social media aide to the president, as an INEC commissioner.

The group issued the warning in a June 28, 2021, letter signed by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju and forwarded to Senate President Ahmad Lawan.

In the same vein, it urged the Senate to immediately clear Professor Sani Adams, a Professor of Law whom it described as “eminently qualified to be a national commissioner”, and other Nigerians on the list.

Recall that the Senate began screening Onochie alongside others for the job on June 9.

However, her inclusion on the list of proposed INEC commissioners raised dust in many quarters.

Concerned Nigerians’ letter, which was copied to Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya noted that the proposed confirmation of Onochie was “in clear violation of the provisions of the extant Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)”.

“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.

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“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. June 28, 2021.

“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 Nigeria 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.”

Also copied in Concerned Nigerians’ letter is the US Ambassador to Nigeria, US Embassy in Nigeria, Abuja, UK High Commissioner in Nigeria, UK High Commission in Nigeria, Abuja, as well as the Head of Mission of the European Union in Nigeria, Abuja.

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