Onochie not qualified as INEC commissioner, says Falana

Ms Lauretta Onochie.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has disqualified the media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ms. Lauretta Onochie from being appointed as a commissioner at the Independent National Commission (INEC), a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana has said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Falana, interim chairperson of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), said a card-carrying member of a registered political party was not fit for such role.

Onochie’s name was among a list of nominees sent to the Senate or confirmation for appointment as INEC commissioners. Others included Mohammed Sani (Katsina), Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti) and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa) as INEC commissioners.

Falana said: “In view of the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to fill some vacancies in the Independent National Electoral Commission it has become pertinent to draw the attention of the Council of State and the Senate to the following provisions of the Constitution,” the coalition said.

“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.

“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.”

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