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Buhari’s media aide, Onochie is British citizen, can’t be INEC Commissioner – CSOs reveals

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Some Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide on Social media, Lauretta Onochie is a British citizen who has been involved in British politics, hence, she can’t be nominated as a National Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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In a petition which was signed by Yiaga Africa, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and CLEEN Foundation dated 16th June, 2021 and addressed to the Senate President Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan noted that Onochie contested Councillorship election in the United Kingdom eleven years ago.

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Other CSOs who signed the are Peering Advocacy and Advancement Centre in Africa (PAACA), International Press Centre (IPC), Institute for Media and Society (IMS), The Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC). adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The petition was delivered to the Senate President’s office on June 18.

The CSOs wrote:

“Up till recently, she has been a full, card-carrying member of the British Conservative Party. To be specific, Mrs Onochie in 2010 contested elections for a councillorship position in Thames Ward in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham as a member of the UK Conservative Party.

“Therefore, her dual loyalty will undermine national interest and it could potentially threaten the independence of INEC,” the CSOs said while insisting that the presidential aide should not be confirmed for the position.

They cited infractions in the 1999 Constitution as amended, should the.Nigeria Senate goes ahead with Onochie’s confirmation.

“It contravened the Third Schedule, Part 1, Item F, paragraph 14 (1) of the Nigerian constitution, which stated that an INEC National Commissioner shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.

“She is also notorious for her partisan, biased and in some instances, inflammatory comments on national issues targeted at perceived or imagined enemies of the Buhari government.

The ICIR had reported that on many occasions, Onochie publicly declared her support for APC on social media, especially during election periods.

The CSOs said given Onochie’s antecedents; it was “highly unlikely that she will remain neutral and objective if successfully screened as one of INEC’s National Commissioners”.

“We contend that her appointment will greatly undermine the neutrality and impartiality of the Independent National Electoral Commission and it will increase mistrust in the INEC and Nigeria’s electoral process,” the CSOs added in the petition.

They further observed that by the provisions of Section 156 (1)(a) and Third Schedule, Part 1, Item F, paragraph 14 (1), Onochie was constitutionally prohibited from any appointment as a member of the electoral umpire.

The CSOs stressed that it was ‘against the sacred spirit’ of the Nigerian Constitution to accept her nomination.

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