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STATEMENT ON SUBMISSION OF THE NAME OF MS. LAURETTA ONOCHIE TO THE NIGERIAN SENATE FOR CONFIRMATION AS INEC NATIONAL COMMISSIONER

Issued in Abuja: 11:00am, Thursday, 10th June 2021

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room again expresses concern with the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Media as National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) representing the South-South.

Ms. Onochie is a political appointee and staff of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress. Her utterances, statements, demeanour and carriage has always conveyed and communicated political bias and partisanship in support of the ruling party APC. While we do not criticize her loyalty to her party, we highlight that these traits are not suited for the position of a non-partisan agency.

Section 156(1) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that an appointee at INEC shall not be a member of a Political Party. It is immaterial that such a person in anticipation for appointment quickly resigned his or her membership of a political party. Item F, paragraph 14 of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria forbids a partisan politician as a member of INEC – a body charged under the Constitution to unbiasedly conduct free and fair elections. The claim of partisanship is glaring and has been exhibited orally and in writing.

Her nomination amounts to a major attempt at undermining efforts to build credibility for an improved electoral process in the country. It is very important for Nigeria that the composition of INEC is transparently non-partisan and independent of partisan political bias.

Furthermore, National Commissioner positions in INEC are zoned to the six geo-political zones in Nigeria where selection is made from two states of each zone to ensure representation. At this time, there is already a National Commissioner in INEC from Delta State whose tenure still subsists. By the Rules and Regulations of the Commission National Commissioners do not supervise their own States. The implication is that no National Commissioner will supervise Delta State. Appointing Lauretta Onochie as INEC Commissioner will jeopardize the integrity of our electoral process and reduce the trust both domestic and international stakeholders have built over time in our election management body.

The important consideration is fairness and justice to all contending parties, and she has shown that she does not have those qualities and capacity to be accommodating to all. Nigerians of all tendencies have opposed her appointment and it will dent our electoral process and democracy to proceed with this.

Situation Room calls on the Senate Committee on INEC to whom the nomination was referred to by the Senate Plenary to recommend her rejection as INEC National Commissioner.

Situation Room also calls on the Senate to reaffirm the integrity and independence of Nigeria’s Electoral System by rejecting the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, as INEC National Commissioner.

Situation Room wishes to remind the Federal Government of Nigeria of the State Resident Electoral Commissioners in INEC whose tenures run out at the end of the year, to begin to think of nominations of qualified persons within the set criteria.

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 SIGNED:

Ene Obi
Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

Asma’Joda
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

 James Ugochukwu
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria numbering more that seventy. The Steering Committee is made up of: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD). Other groups are Centre LSD, CISLAC, WARD-C, Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, JDPC, YIAGA Africa, Development Dynamics, Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR,) Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Electoral Hub etc

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