Members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Wednesday, staged a peaceful protest at the National Assembly, calling on the Senate to reject the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on October 12, nominated Onochie, his aide on social media, and five others for the INEC job.
Buhari, in an executive communication to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, stated that his request was pursuant to Paragraph 14, part I (f) of the Third Schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.
Onochie’s nomination had sparked thunderous outrage from the opposition lawmakers and some from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and civil society groups, who argued that she was “too partisan” to be a commissioner in an important institution like INEC.
The Senate, after receiving Buhari’s request, referred the nominations to its committee on INEC for screening.
The PDP members led by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, demonstrated at the National Assembly and asked the Senate committee to reject the nomination of Onochie “because she cannot be neutral or independent” in her role as INEC commissioner.
In a protest letter addressed to the committee’s chairman, Senator Kabiru Gaya, PDP said Onochie’s confirmation would be a wholesome abuse of democratic tenets and dragging the reputation of the President and the Senate into the political mud.
The letter, signed by Sen. Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri, the National Secretary, reads: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has learnt of the nomination of Mrs Lauretta Onochie as a Commissioner in INEC by Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The nomination which was read on the floor of the Senate and forwarded to your committee for screening has created a lot of misgivings in the court of public opinion and judgement.
“Our Party considers it as important to bring to the attention of your committee the fact that our duty is to let you know that the National Assembly must endeavour to do things right and in accordance with the dictates of the laws of the country.
“The Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended clearly prohibits people like Mrs Onochie, who is very partisan, in fact, a card-carrying member of a political party to be appointed into INEC as an electoral umpire.
“Section 156(i)(a) and third schedule, Part 1, Item F, Paragraph 14(1) of the Constitution have outrightly disqualified her.
“We are, therefore, writing to ask the Chairman to save the Senate President, the Senate itself and Mr President from being ridiculed.
“We call on your committee to reject the nomination of Mrs Onochie because she cannot be neutral or independent as she is factually known to be an unrepentant card-carrying member of the APC with an uncountable number of proofs.
“Her confirmation will be a wholesome abuse of democratic tenets and dragging the reputation of the President and the Senate in the political mud.
“Please, don’t make an avoidable legislative and political mistake for the country.”