Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) has said that the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, a political appointee and Senior Special Assistant to the President on social media, as National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) representing the South-South geo-political zone, is an attempt to undermine the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral process.
In a statement signed by Bukola Idowu, Executive Director, KDI, it was noted that Onochie’s affiliation with the All Progressives Congress (APC) makes her unfit as a National Commissioner, stressing that “she cannot be separated from her political affiliation, and her neutrality cannot be guaranteed if appointed.”
KDI also noted that if appointed, “it will affect the trust of citizens and water down the effort of both local and international stakeholders to strengthen an unbiased electoral system and election management body.”
KDI also highlighted that Ononchie’s nomination is in contradiction to the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, noting that, “the nomination of a political affiliate negates section 156(1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
The group quoted Section 156 (1) of the constitution which states that, “No person shall be qualified for appointment as a member of any of the bodies aforesaid if – (a)He is not qualified or if he is disqualified for the election as a member of the House of Representatives; provided that a member of any of these bodies shall not be required to belong to a political party, and in the case of the Independent National Electoral Commission, he shall not be a member of a Political Party.”
“Also, Item F, paragraph 14 (2) (a) of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria forbids a partisan politician as a member of INEC. It provides as follows: 14 (2) (a) A member of the Commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity,” the group mentioned.
KDI further noted that the nomination of Lauretta Onochie is not in compliant with the existing geo-political zoning structure of INEC National Commissioners.
The statement reads in part that, “the position of the National Commissioners is zoned to the six geo-political zones of Nigeria with two representatives from each zone. Currently, there is a National Commissioner from Delta State whose tenure is not yet over.
“The nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, who also hails from Delta State, implies that two (2) National Commissioners representing the South-South geo-political zone will be from Delta State. This will most likely be sensed as partiality by the remaining states in the geo-political zone, which may affect the unity of the states and could probably breed hate.
KDI thereafter called on “the Senate Committee on INEC to uphold the integrity of our Constitution and not consider accepting her as INEC National Commissioner representing the South-South geo-political zone. KDI wishes to recommend that a credible and non-partisan person from the zone be considered INEC National Commissioner in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”