For the umpteenth time, the critical mass of Nigerian public has again widely condemned the the presidential nomination and planned confirmation of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as INEC Commissioner by the Nigerian Senate. Their disagreement enjoyed a massive boost yesterday when the Nigerian Bar Association through its Section on Public Interest and Development Law under the chairmanship of Dr. Monday O. Ubani wrote a formal complaint to the Nigerian Senate on the issue.
The letter written to the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya opened: ‘I write this letter of objection to you, sir at this critical and turbulent times in our Nation’s history, and I strongly believe that the Senate as a democratic institution of this great Country, has what it takes at this trying times to save and preserve Nigeria from heckling down to hell.’
It continued, ‘Sometime in October 2020, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as an INEC Commissioner. Mrs Lauretta Onochie, who until her nomination by the President, served as the President’s Personal Assistant and was an unapologetic member of the ruling Party the All Progressive Congress (APC) hence, her nomination by the President as INEC Commissioner, a position that the law prescribes the holder of same should be non-partisan, is ultra-vires and unconstitutional.’
‘Recently her name came up for confirmation by the senate after an initial set back, therefore, as a concerned Citizen of this great Country, and as a Constitutional Legal Practitioner with grave concern for the preservation and sustainability of our very fragile democracy, I hereby strongly object to the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie by the President and her intended confirmation of her nomination by the Senate.’
Quoting key sections of the law such as Section 152 of Electoral Act,
Section 154 (3) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999, as amended), and Paragraph 14 of part I of the third schedule of the Constitution as amended in Section 30 No. 1 of 2020, the constitutional lawyer Dr. Ubani validated the ‘partisanship’ grievance against Lauretta Onochie. He, then, called on the Nigerian Senate to discontinue the process of confirming the President’s Personal Assistant as a Commissioner of the non-partisan umpire of Nigeria’s elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He wrote: ‘I, therefore, on behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association urge that her nomination be rejected and her confirmation be denied forthwith.’