Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Ripples of the appointment of Laureate Onochie as a national commissioner-designate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have continued as the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condemned in strong terms the nomination of the presidential aide for such job, describing it an executive recklessness, a dirty slap on the populace, and a gross violation of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended).
In a statement issued by the CAN President, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo, he said: “When President Muhammadu Buhari said he wanted to leave a legacy of free, fair and credible election behind, all right-thinking Nigerians were happy, and CAN has been praying for God to grant him the grace to do so.
“But the nomination of his personal aide to such a sensitive position may have revealed the type of electoral legacy the president is working on.”
The leader of the Christian highest body called upon on the Senate to reject the nomination of Onochie as a member of the INEC for the following reasons.
The statement said according to Section 156 (1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) Act No 1, 2010, a member of the INEC “shall not be a member of a political party.”
It added: “Whereas Onochie is reportedly said to be a card-carrying member of the ruling party. That disqualifies her from being nominated and appointed to serve in INEC.
“Although the president has the power to appoint members of INEC whenever there are vacancies, he is expected to abide by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in doing so.
“He is also required to consult with the Council of State as stated in section 154 (3) of the constitution and we have no record that this had been done before forwarding Onochie’s name to the Senate.
“If this observation is correct, then the president erred in law by forwarding her name to the Senate as demanded by Section 154 (1) of the constitution which says the appointment of the members of the INEC shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
According to the CAN president, “As far as CAN is concerned, Onochie suffers objectivity, justice and fairness that are mandatory for every member of INEC as a result of her partisan membership of a political party, and by being an appointee of the ruling party.
“We are equally opposed to her nomination because of her unguarded remarks, public insults on credible individuals and the use of vulgar language and unprintable words against people who express their displeasure to some actions and policies of the government of the day, especially, her principal.
“Our association and its leadership had been a victim of her unguarded statements since her appointment as the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media. A person like her, by her utterances, does not have the character to occupy a position of unbiased umpire in national elections in Nigeria.
“We, therefore, appeal to the Senate to save the country from constitutional breach and crises during elections that can consume the country.”