Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana has condemned the recent appointment of an aide to President Buhari, Lauretta Onochie as a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to Channels’ TV report, Mr. Falana in a statement signed on Tuesday, few hours after the President announced the appointment, listed some constitutional criteria to determine who is fit for the position.
On this list of criteria, Mr. Falana pointed out that members of the INEC must not be partisan but described Onochie as an “unrepentant member” of PDP who has shown her allegiance to the party by consistently attacked members of other political parties.
He says Mrs. Lauretta is not compliant with this rule in any way.
“To that extent, she is partisan and therefore, not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission,” Falana said.
President Buhari had written to the Senate on Tuesday seeking confirmation of Mrs. Lauretta’s appointment and three others as National Commissioner for INEC.
The others are Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa). The letter was read by Senator Ahmed Lawan at plenary.
See full statement by Femi Falana below:
MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO BE INEC COMMISSIONERS
‘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:
1. 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;
2. 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.
3. 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;
4. 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.”
Femi Falana SAN
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