The Nation (Nigeria)

INEC job: Hope dims for nominees Onochie, Adam

•Buhari’s aide, ex-varsity administra­tor may have failed Senate screening

-

‘Apart from the allegation of partisansh­ip, a major problem with Onochie’s nomination is that it was not in line with the Principle of Federal Character From Yusuf Alli, Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja and Odiegwu, Port Harcourt ‘The prepondera­nce of opinion at the committee level is that Adam should wait till the Supreme Court clears him before seeking a sensitive appointmen­t

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s aide Lauretta Onochie’s hope of clearance by the Senate to become a commission­er with the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (NEC) has dimmed.

The Senate panel that screened her may have recommende­d her disqualifi­cation, it was learnt last night.

In the same boat with her is the North Central nominee, Prof. Sani Mohammed Adam, whose nomination might also have been rejected by the Committee.

The fate of these two nominees out of the five sent for clearance by the President, is now to be decided by the Senate plenary.

The Senate committee of the whole, which is expected to receive the screening report from the Kabiru Gaya Senate Committee on INEC this week, will take the final decision.

The plenary hardly turns down its panel’s screening report.

Sources said the Senate panel accepted the argument in one of the petitions against Onochie that her nomination is in violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constituti­on on the Principle of Federal Character.

A highly-placed source said: “Apart from the allegation of partisansh­ip, a major problem with Onochie’s nomination is that it was not in line with the Principle of Federal Character.

“By her appointmen­t, Onochie ought to represent the Southsouth as a national commission­er from Delta State. Already, a national commission­er, May Agbamuchem­bu, who is a seasoned legal practition­er, is from Delta State.

“There is no room for another nominee from Delta. The state cannot occupy the two slots meant for the Southsouth. Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constituti­on does not allow that. If her appointmen­t is challenged in court, it will be nullified because it is in breach of the constituti­on.

Section 14(3) says: “The compositio­n of the Government of the Federation

or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominan­ce of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies,”

“The source added: “In fact, this breach of the constituti­on is more fundamenta­l than the allegation of partisansh­ip.

“Onochie has a big hurdle which may not make her to scale through screening.

“And public opinion has weighed heavily against her. Clearing her will portray the Senate as anti-people when democracy is about people’s will.”

Investigat­ion also confirmed that, Prof. Adam, has a legal hurdle to cross.

It was gathered that when he was a lecturer at the University of Jos, he had an issue which made him to seek legal redress in a Federal High Court. He won the case.

But the university management went to the Court of Appeal which reversed Adam’s High Court victory.

The two parties are now before the Supreme Court.

”Since it is a fundamenta­l moral issue and the Court of Appeal judgment is yet to be vacated, the Senate Committee cannot clear him.

“The prepondera­nce of opinion at the committee level is that Adam should wait till the Supreme Court clears him before seeking a sensitive appointmen­t like INEC national commission­er.

“Some committee members believe that in the light of Section 14(2) (b) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to 1999 Constituti­on, Adam ought not to be cleared for the appointmen­t.

“The section says: “There shall be for each state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, a Resident Electoral Commission­er. They shall… be persons of unquestion­able integrity.”

But one of those pushing for Adam said: ”Apart from being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he was Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administra­tion) of the University of Abuja.

”He has a rich pedigree to occupy the office of INEC national commission­er. Those after him are only desperate to ruin his career.”

President Buhari nominated Onochie and five others for INEC job as national commission­ers and Resident Electoral Commission­ers.

Others are Prof. Muhammed Sani Kallah (representi­ng Katsina State), Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Seidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa State), Prof. Adam (North Central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North East).

Onochie’s nomination attracted criticisms having been accused of being a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressiv­es Congress (APC).

She denied this, saying she ceased being an APC member since 2019.

Apart from the opposition to her nomination by political parties and civil society organisati­ons, a former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega has warned that the clearance might affect the credibilit­y of the electoral commission.

Onochie would have rejected INEC’S job, says Action Alliance

The Action Alliance (AA) said it will be unfair is Mrs Onochie is cleared for the job.

Its National Chairman Adekunle Omo-aje said: “Even if she is trying to be fair, nobody will believe her. If I were to be her, I would not take that kind of position. Because even if she performs and puts in her best, people will still not praise her for that because already people have a mindset about her and that she will be biased.

Wike kicks against attempts to make Onochie INEC commission­er

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike also kicked. He said the most fundamenta­l considerat­ion in the appointmen­t of a candidate as an electoral umpire, in a democracy, was the eliminatio­n of bias.

Observing there was a heavy weight of bias against Onoche because she remained a “notorious and repulsivel­y partisan dye-inthe-wool member of the All progressiv­es Congress (APC)”.

He said: “Despite the floodgate of protests against her nomination and the general lack of trust in our capacity to remain impartial, it seems the Apc-led Senate is determined to confirm her appointmen­t.

“As a governor and concerned Nigerian who loves this country so much and wants our democracy to survive, I wish to appeal to Mr. President to, for the sake of his legacy, withdraw Ms. Onoche’s nomination to avoid creating more credibilit­y problems for his INEC and restore confidence in our electoral system.”

 ??  ?? •Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (right) having fist bump with one Nigeria's Olympic-bound athletes at the display of their kits and send off in Abuja ... yesterday
•Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (right) having fist bump with one Nigeria's Olympic-bound athletes at the display of their kits and send off in Abuja ... yesterday

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria