Friday, 2nd June 2023

CSOs, CNPP warn Buhari not to renominate Onochie, laud Senate

By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
15 July 2021   |   2:29 am
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to renominate his Senior Special Assistant, Ms Lauretta Onochie to the Senate for confirmation as a National Commissioner....

Lauretta Onochie

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to renominate his Senior Special Assistant, Ms Lauretta Onochie to the Senate for confirmation as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Situation Room, which is a coalition of over 70 groups working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, said their plea to President Buhari was based on what transpired in the case of the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.

The CSOs, in a statement on Wednesday, noted that President Buhari persistently forwarded Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation, even after his nomination was rejected twice.

“We hope that the Presidency will listen to the voice of the people this time by not renominating Lauretta Onochie again to be confirmed as INEC commissioner. We are not in any way against her as a person. The President can make her a Minister or give her any other appointment, but not as INEC commissioner.

“There are many qualified people from Delta State that can be nominated into the position”, Situation Room stated.The CSOs, in the statement that was signed by its conveners, Mrs Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, equally commended the Senate for declining Onochie’s nomination, even as it urged President Buhari to chose another non-partisan woman as her replacement.

“It is pertinent to reiterate that Item F, paragraph 14 of the third schedule to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution stipulates non-partisanship as one of the criteria for the appointment of a person as a National Commissioners of INEC. Therefore, it is unconstitutional for anybody in partisan politics to be in INEC and this should be taken into consideration with respect to subsequent nominations for positions at the electoral commission.

“Situation Room continues to stand by this position as stipulated by the law. Situation Room lauds the Senate’s decision to uphold the Federal Character Principle enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and its adherence to the voice of Nigerians by rejecting Onochie’s nomination.

“Situation Room enjoins the National Assembly and all institutions of government to always uphold the tenets of democracy in the discharge of their duties and act in the interest of the Nigerian people at all times.

“Situation Room also uses this opportunity to remind the National Assembly that Nigerians are watching and waiting anxiously for the inclusion of electronic transmission of election results and a downward review of the limits of election expenses in the Electoral Bill, 2021.

“Situation Room calls on the National Assembly to pass the Electoral Bill and transmit same to the President for assent before proceeding on recess”, the statement further read.

In the same vein, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), has commended the Senate for rejecting the nomination of Onochie as a commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Specifically, the platform for political parties in the country praised the lawmakers for bowing to pressure of public opinion in turning down the nomination of Onochie.

“We commend the Senate for listening to the voice of reason and flowing with public opinion rather than maintaining its traditional rubber stamp disposition to all executive requests at the detriment of the overall national interest.”

The CNPP Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu in a statement issued on Wednesday said, “It pays for all elected public officers to listen to the people from whom they derive their powers and are holding offices in trust for their well-being, with a view to improving on the rapidly eroding public confidence in our political office holders.”

Ezwugu said: “While we commend the Senators for not allowing the controversial nomination Onochie to sail through, we warn of a repeat of the Ibrahim Magu template where the executive unilaterally imposed him on the country in perpetual Acting Capacity as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the wish of the people.

“We all know how Magu’s tenure as EFCC’s acting chairman ended, proving that corruption allegation against him by the Department of State Services (DSS), leading to his rejection by the 8th Senate was correct.”

“And just as a once corrupt person will always be corrupt, a partisan player like Lauretta Onochie would have remained partisan even as INEC commissioner.

“It will be disastrous for our already struggling democracy, if the executive is allowed to appoint a fanatically partisan character like Lauretta Onochie through the backdoor, using the Magu template.

“The CNPP hereby advises the Presidency to shelve all overbearing attitude it has continued to subtly exhibit on the federal lawmakers in the remaining less than two years of the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“All federal lawmakers, Mr. President, and presidential aides should focus more on life after office rather than generating controversies through an unending opposition to the welfare of the citizens manifesting in numerous ill-conceived policies and executive bills meant to gag the people and the media”, the CNPP added.