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Falana quotes Law, Onochie Not qualified to be INEC Commissioner

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, has faulted the appointment of Lauretta Onochie, an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari as a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement signed on Tuesday, hours after the President announced the appointment, Mr Falana listed some criteria provided in the Constitution to determine who is fit for the position.

One of the criteria included the fact that members must not be partisan – a rule which he says Mrs Lauretta is not compliant with.

He described her as an “unrepentant member” of the ruling party and one who has “consistently attacked members of other political parties.

“To that extent, she is partisan and therefore, not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission,” Falana said.

President Buhari is seeking confirmation of Mrs Lauretta’s appointment as a National Commissioner for INEC, representing Delta State.

He made this known in a letter written to the Senate on Tuesday, which was later read by Senator Ahmed Lawan at plenary.

The President is also seeking confirmation of the appointment of three other; Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).

See full statement below:

MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO BE INEC COMMISSIONERS

In view of the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to fill some vacancies in the Independent National Electoral Commission it has become pertinent to draw the attention of the Council of State and the Senate to the following provisions of the Constitution:

1. In appointing the members of the INEC the President is required to consult with the Council of State pursuant to section 154 (3) of the Constitution;

2. Paragraph B of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution provides that “The Council of State shall have power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to (iv) the Independent National Electoral Commission including the appointment of the members of the Commission.

3. Pursuant to section 154 (1) of the Constitution, the appointment of the members of the Independent National Electoral Commission shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate;

4. Paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as amended by Section 30, Act No 1 of 2010, a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission “shall be non-partisan”.

From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that a card-carrying member of a registered political party or a well known supporter of a particular political party is constitutionally disqualified from the membership of the Independent National Electoral Commission. As an unrepentant member of the ruling party Mrs Loretta Onochie has consistently attacked members of other political parties. To that extent, she is partisan and therefore not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Femi Falana SAN

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