A Civil Society Organisation, Concerned Nigerians, has asked the United States of America to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari and not let him “destroy” the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The request followed Buhari’s nomination of his Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, as INEC’s National Commissioner representing Delta State.
The nomination has been rejected by several Nigerians who argued that a card-carrying member of a political party should not be made an electoral commissioner considering the non-partisan functions of INEC.
In a letter dated October 14, 2020, and addressed to the Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) in Nigeria, Concerned Nigerians described Onochie’s nomination as “a reprehensible attempt” to “destroy” the integrity and independence of the nation’s electoral umpire.
The group further noted that the nomination violates 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 INEC “shall be non-partisan”.
Describing Onochie’s appointment as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, it appealed to the US to pressure Buhari to rescind the appointment “as it is capable of reversing the gains made in our electoral processes.”
“We write to you as friends of Nigeria and strong democratic partners of our nation on the above subject matter,” the organisation wrote in a letter signed by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of his Personal Assistant on Social, Lauretta Onochie, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioner from Delta State is a reprehensible attempt to destroy the integrity and independence of Nigeria’s electoral commission.
“Lauretta Onochie is an openly partisan, card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party, who constantly attacks and denigrates critics of the ruling party.
“Her appointment is in violation of 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”.
“This constitutional provision prohibits a card-carrying member of a registered political party or a well-known supporter of a particular political party from being appointed as a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“Her appointment is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and unacceptable to the generality of the Nigerian people. We appeal to you to pressure President Buhari to rescind this appoint as it is capable of reversing the gains made in our electoral processes.
“Please be assured of the compliments of our warmest regards.”