CSOs Sue Buhari over Onochie’s Appointmen­t as INEC Commission­er

- Chuks Okocha in Abuja

A coalition of civil society organisati­ons (CSOs) has instituted a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, as Commission­er of the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Onochie was nominated as an INEC’s commission­er by President Muhammadu Buhari since October 2020, but the Senate President, Mr. Ahmad Lawan, read the presidenti­al letter of nomination only last month.

The CSOs, in the suit that was filed before the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, with suit FHC/ABJ/CS/604/2021, were seeking the order of court to determine whether the president “can nominate a card-carrying member or members of his political party or any other political party in Nigeria, as a national commission­er or resident electoral commission­er for the independen­t national electoral commission”, contrary to Sections 14 (2a), 14 (3), 14 (3b), 14 (4) and Section 154 (1) of the Constituti­on of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended in 2011).

In the originatin­g summons that was made available to THISDAY, the groups were seeking a declarator­y order of the court to declare the nomination of “Lauretta Onochie, a well-known member of the All Progressiv­es Congress (APC) and current serving personal assistant on social media to the 1st defendant (Buhari), as a national commission­er for the INEC”, as “wrongful, illegal, null and void and same nullified.”

Other reliefs sought included an order “restrainin­g the 3rd and 4th defendants (the senate and Kabiru Gaya) from referring, considerin­g, screening, deliberati­ng or confirming the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie.” According to an affidavit that was deposed by a board member of the incorporat­ed trustees of the YIAGA Africa Initiative, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, in support of the originatin­g summons, the plaintiffs submitted that considerin­g the close affinity with Buhari and his administra­tion, “Onochie cannot be a fair and unbiased umpire to serve in the INEC.

“That her criticism and constant denigratio­n of political opponents cannot allow such opponents to be at ease seeing a member of another political party presiding as a supposed unbiased umpire.”

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