CHRISTIAN LAWYERS WARN INEC, JUDICIARY ON 2023 ELECTIONS

Lawyers under the aegis of Christian Lawyers Association of Nigeria (CLASFON) have warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the 2023 General Elections are free, fair and credible.

The group also called on the judiciary to ensure that it is not used to scuttle the nation’s democratic experience, urging it to shun frivolous lawsuits aimed to derail the elections.

Rising from its President-in-Council Meeting held at Bible Guest House, Ilupeju, Lagos, CLASFON, in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, said: “As the 2023 elections draw closer, CLASFON calls on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant agencies to take every step to ensure a free, fair and credible election in line with the provisions of the extant Electoral Act. CLASFON enjoins INEC to display the highest level of fidelity to the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act and reject every attempt by political actors to hijack or derail the election process.”

Continuing, it called on the judiciary “to live up to its expectation as a bold, just and independent institution and as the last hope of the common man by acting as a watchdog of Nigerian Constitution and electoral law in ensuring that the will of the people is not thwarted. The Judiciary should be resolute and should not hesitate to dismiss frivolous suits with no value other than to scuttle the electoral process to avoid a repeat of the sad and unfortunate experience of 1993 when the courts were used to prepare the ground for the infamous annulment of the June 12 Election.”

Signed by Prof. John Akintayo and Precious Nwadimuya, CLASFON’s President and National Secretary respectively, the statement also decried the insecurity ravaging the country, saying: “CLASFON is worried about the increasingly alarming and pervasive incidence of insecurity in Nigeria. While commending the efforts of security personnel saddled with the duty of securing Nigeria, CLASFON joins other well-meaning Nigerians and groups to call on the Federal Government to restructure its security architecture.”

It stated that “the Nigerian Government should not merely declare that Nigeria is safe and criticise the travel advisories released by the diplomatic missions of some countries in Nigeria, including the United Kingdom and the United States, but it must ensure that all tiers of government act with caution and take concrete and measurable steps to adequately protect the citizens and other residents of Nigeria. CLASFON calls on all relevant security agencies to brace up and discharge their constitutional and legal mandates since no country can thrive or develop amid insecurity.”

Below is the full text of the communique.

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‘HOW MY SIGNATURE WAS FORGED FOR INEC, BVAS LAWSUIT,’ BY LAWYER

• SAYS ‘MY COLLEAGUE HAS APOLOGIZED TO ME, BUT ….’

• LAWYER SAYS IT IS A ‘MISPLACEMENT’

The lawyer in the middle of the controversial lawsuit filed at Federal High Court, Owerri to stop electronic transmission of results and use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told CITY LAWYER that the lawyer who actually filed the lawsuit “forged” her signature on the court documents.

According to Onyinyechi Joy Abazie, an Owerri based lawyer, the lawyer has also apologized over the incident.

Restating her earlier disclaimer concerning the lawsuit, Abazie who said that she is a “junior lawyer” in the Law Office of CK Mgbekonye & Co., Shekinah Chambers of No. 9 Egbu Road, Owerri, told CITY LAWYER that “I want to use this opportunity to further disclaim that I did not file any suit in Federal High Court, Owerri against INEC or Professor Mahmood Yakubu.”

She said that the suit “was filed in my name and without my consent by Blessing B. Mike Iwuajunwa, Esquire.”

Giving details on how her Nigerian Bar Association issued official stamp got on the court document, Abazie said: “She (Iwuajunwa) called me from my our own office at No. 9 Egbu Road, Owerri while I was in Lagos during the NBA National Conference, requesting that I give her two of my (NBA) seals.

“I asked her what she needed to do with my seal; being a senior lawyer, at least she can afford to pay for any quantity that she wants. And she said she bought a landed property in her name, that she doesn’t want to be the donee and also the maker of the Power of Attorney.

“I said OK, no problem. Give any of our secretaries phone. She gave one of our secretaries Chinyere phone. And I instructed Chinyere where she would collect my seal from and give this my learned senior – which Chinyere did.

“My learned senior left and promised that we would see when I come back from the conference. I came back from the conference and called her severally for us to meet, probably for me to go through the document that she has prepared and know if it is worth signing by me or not, but due to our busy schedules we didn’t meet.

“So I travelled to the village today in preparation of my mum’s burial which is (to hold) a week today, only for me to be getting numerous calls upon calls concerning this suit that she filed in my name without my consent.

“And the most painful part of it is that she also forged my signature. This is so disheartening. I am being distracted now from the normal activities that brought me home.

“I don’t know why a senior lawyer of her kind that I respect so much, how she could descend this low to do things at my own detriment. I feel very very bad. I feel really pained now.

“She has called to apologize, but then the deed has been done.”

When CITY LAWYER asked Iwuajunwa whether she was involved in the matter, she said “No.” She accused CITY LAWYER of ‘hacking’ her telephone number, even as she kept asking: “How did you get my number?”

Iwuajunwa also said: “I just read the disclaimer you sent to me. I want to know how I am connected.” She finally stated that “there is a misplacement in the name” but did not respond to further enquiries.

CITY LAWYER had in an earlier report noted how Abazie had disowned the lawsuit, saying she does not know the plaintiff, Nwankwere Morale Chinwen.

In the controversial suit obtained by CITY LAWYER, Chinwen is urging the Federal High Court sitting in Owerri to grant “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, staff, officers, privies, or howsoever described from using or deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) or any other similar device, equipment, instrument, or gadget of such or same nature for the accreditation of registered voters in the 2023 General Elections.”

The plaintiff is also seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, staff, officers, privies, or howsoever described from electronically transmitting, feeding or collating the results of elections at the 2023 General Elections.”

Dated August 24, 2022, the lawsuit was allegedly filed by “J. O. ABAZIE, ESQ” of Dimogbuji Chambers, 134 Wetheral Road, Owerri.

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LAWYER DISOWNS SUIT AGAINST INEC, BVAS, ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION, BLAMES COLLEAGUE

Controversy has enveloped a lawsuit reportedly filed against the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by one “J. O. ABAZIE ESQ,” an Owerri-based lawyer.

Washing her hands off the lawsuit, Joy Abazie stated in a “Disclaimer” now trending on social media that “I do not know Nwankwere Morale Chinwen, the purported plaintiff in the Suit neither have I met him/her before. He is not my client and neither did he brief me for any matter whatsoever.”

Abazie, an Owerri-based lawyer who said that she is currently bereaved and battling over burial plans for her deceased mother, also stated that “The person behind this unfortunate act is one Blessing Iwuajunwa, Esq, a colleague in Owerri who was the only person I have given my NBA stamp since this year and she told me that she needs the stamp to prepare a land instrument owing to unavailability of her stamp.”

Continuing, Abazie added that “It is very pathetic that such sensitive suit which is likely to make or mar the future of a Nation could be filed without my consent, authority or approval.”

In the controversial suit obtained by CITY LAWYER, one Nwankwere Morale Chinwen is urging the Federal High Court sitting in Owerri to grant “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, staff, officers, privies, or howsoever described from using or deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) or any other similar device, equipment, instrument, or gadget of such or same nature for the accreditation of registered voters in the 2023 General Elections.”

The plaintiff is also seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, staff, officers, privies, or howsoever described from electronically transmitting, feeding or collating the results of elections at the 2023 General Elections.”

Dated August 24, 2022, the lawsuit was allegedly filed by “J. O. ABAZIE, ESQ” of Dimogbuji Chambers, 134 Wetheral Road, Owerri.

Efforts by CITY LAWYER to reach both lawyers proved abortive. While Abazie’s verified telephone number was “switched off,” the telephone contact endorsed on the court process and suspected to be Iwuajunwa’s contact rang without response.

A source close to Abazie however told CITY LAWYER that she had “complained bitterly” about the matter to him, adding that she is “totally in the dark concerning the lawsuit.”

It was unclear at press time whether any date has been fixed for hearing of the lawsuit.

Below is the full text of Abazie’s disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER

My attention has just been drawn to a Suit commenced via Originating Summons filed at the Federal High Court, Owerri Judicial Division in Suit No. HOW/OW/CS/144/2022 Between NWANKWERE MORALE CHINWEN V. INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION & 1 ANOR.

I hereby state in categorical and unequivocal terms that the suit was filed without my consent. The signature on the process is not mine and my initials is O.J. Abazie, Esq. The office address on the process is also not mine.

The person behind this unfortunate act is one Blessing Iwuajunwa, Esq, a colleague in Owerri who was the only person I have given my NBA stamp since this year and she told me that she needs the stamp to prepare a land instrument owing to unavailability of her stamp.

Let it be known that I do not know Nwankwere Morale Chinwen, the purported plaintiff in the Suit neither have I met him/her before. He is not my client and neither did he brief me for any matter whatsoever.

Let it be known also that I have been preoccupied in the village with the burial preparation of my late mother for some time now.

It is very pathetic that such sensitive suit which is likely to make or mar the future of a Nation could be filed without my consent, authority or approval.

I hereby condemn such act in unequivocal terms and shall take the necessary steps to address such unprofessional conduct.

The public should therefore take note.

O.J. Abazie, Esq.

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ELECTORAL ACT 2022: LOCUS STANDI ON QUALIFYING ASPIRANTS AN ABERRATION

In this article by DR. KAYODE AJULO, he x-rays Section 29(5) and Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and argues that limiting the persons who can challenge the submission of false information to INEC to only an Aspirant who participated in the primary election amounts to giving a carte blanche to political parties to indulge in impunity and continued violation of the Constitution to the detriment of electorate

LIMITATION OF LOCUS STANDI OF PERSONS WHO CAN CHALLENGE QUALIFICATION OF A CANDIDATE TO ONLY AN ASPIRANT BY SECTION 29(5) OF THE ELECTORAL ACT IS AN ABERRATION AND INIMICAL TO EFFECTIVE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE.

Introduction
It is no more news that President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, 25th February, 2022 signed the Electoral Act, 2022 into law. It suffices to recall that the said Bill was signed into law after it has suffered protracted delay and setbacks both from the Presidency and the National Assembly, particularly on the provision of the Bill which relates to mandatory direct primaries.

While commending the drafters of the Act for the wealth of industry and Mr. President for leaving behind a great legacy in our electoral process, it is pertinent to draw attention to the provision of Section 29(5) of the Act which limits the power to challenge the Constitutional qualification of a candidate for an election to only an Aspirant.

Exclusive right of a Political Party to field in candidate of its choice
Before delving into the probity or otherwise of Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, it is pertinent to state as a prefatory that the choice of candidates by political parties for elective office being a political issue is governed by the rules, guidelines and constitution of the political party concerned and is a matter of internal affairs of the political party concerned. It is not to be questioned before any Court as it is non-justiciable. See the case of DALHATU V. TURAKI (2003) 15 NWLR (PT 843)

Furthermore, as a legal proposition, no member of a political patty has the locus standi to question the party’s prerogative right on the issue of its choice of candidates for elective office not even in the face of breaching of its rules and regulations.
The Supreme Court in the case of PDP & ORS v. EZEONWUKA & ANOR (2017) LPELR-42563(SC) held as follows:
“I dare say, The redress available to such a member who is aggrieved and who has suffered any damage as a result of refusing him nomination and sponsorship lies in damages against the political party and subject to the provision of the party constitution, rules and regulations.”

Redress available under the Electoral Act

However, the Electoral Act has made provision for instances where persons can challenge the qualification of a candidate fielded for election by a political party on the one hand and the failure of the political party to comply with its Constitution, guidelines and the provision of the Electoral Act in the conduct of primary election.

This rights were conferred by the provision of Section 31(5) and Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) both on “any person” in the first instance and on an “Aspirant” in the second instance.

The rationale for ensuring rights of redress and access to court have been given judicial imprimatur by the Supreme Court.

In the case of Ugwu v. Ararume (2007) FWLR (Pt.1048) 367 at 449 Noki-Tobi, J.S.C held that
“…It is certainly not the intention of the Act (Electoral Act of 2006) to gamble with an important aspect of the electoral process, such as primaries in the hands of a political party to dictate the pace in any way it likes, without any corresponding exercise of due process on the part of the aggrieved person.”

Similarly, at page 461 of the judgment Oguntade, J.S.C held as follows:
An observer of the Nigerian political scene today easily discovers that the failure of the parties to ensure intra-party democracy and live by the provisions of their Constitutions as to the emergence of candidates for elections is one of the major causes of the serious problems hindering the enthronement of a representative government in the country.

What does Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provide?

Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act provides as follows:
“Any Aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by his political party’s candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate in relation to his constitutional requirements to contest the election is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court against that candidate seeking that the information contained in the affidavit is false.”

A bird view of the above provision and a literal interpretation of the above section is to the effect that only an Aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party and who has reasonable grounds to believe that a candidate of his political party submitted false information to INEC can challenge same.

Who is an Aspirant?

An aspirant is a person with a strong desire to achieve a position of importance or to win a competition. In the case of PDP & ANOR V. SYLVA & ORS (2012) LPELR-7814(SC) defined an Aspirant as follows:
An aspirant is a person with a strong desire to achieve a position of importance or to win a competition.

Indeed Section 87 (1) of the Electoral Act States that: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective posts.”

From the above it is clear that an aspirant is aperson who contested the primaries. An aspirant is thus a candidate in the primaries.

Hence by parity of interpretation, it is only a person who contested at the primary election of a political party that can challenge the qualification of a candidate to contest election.

It therefore implies that by virtue of the provision of Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, a concerned citizen, member of an opposition party, Non-Governmental Organization can no longer challenge the qualification of a candidate to contest election.

Comparison of Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2015 and Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

In proffering argument in support of the limitation placed by Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2015, it is imperative to consider a similar provision of Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2015.

Section 31(5) provides as follows:
Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.

This provision of the Act has been adjudicated upon and interpreted by the tiers of Court, particularly the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In the case of LAWRENCE V. PDP & ORS(2017) LPELR-42610(SC) held as follows:
The operative words in Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act therefore are, a person”. The determination is a matter of interpretation.

I seek to state that in the interpretation of statutes, the law is trite and well entrenched that where the legislative words are clear and unambiguous, the Court must interpret and apply the words in their plain and ordinary meaning. This Court has held in a long line of cases that, it is not for the Court to re-draft a statute especially where the wordings are devoid of ambiguity or confusion. See Kotoye v. Saraki (1994) 7 NWLR (Pt.357) page 414…For all intents and purposes, the use of the words, a person” presupposes any person. It is also open ended to all and at the same time inclusive of all and without restriction or exclusion. The fact that one is a member of a particular political party or not, is of no relevance but is all embracing.
See also the case of PDP V. INEC & ORS (2014) LPELR-23808(SC).

It is opined that limiting the persons who can challenge the submission of false information to INEC under the provision of Section 66(i) of the 1999 Constitution and other relevant sections to only an Aspirant who participated in the primary election as done under Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act, 2022 amounts to giving a carte blanche to political parties to indulge in impunity and continued violation of the provisions of the Constitution to the detriment of electorates and the Nigerian Citizens.

The Supreme Court while berating such acts of impunity in the case of SALEH V. ABAH & ORS held as follows:
“The culture of impunity exhibited by the 1st and 3rd Defendants continued unabated with 2nd Defendant, INEC declaring 3rd Defendant not only eligible but the winner of the said general elections 2015 (sic) and returned him unopposed as the Honorable member for the said Federal constituency on the platform of 1st Defendant, PDP, as other registered Political parties fielded no candidates at the general election 2015. The era of political parties presenting candidates holding public offices at Local, State and National levels with forged certificates which still persists in the polity needs to be addressed urgently by relevant law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders (and we add-including Courts) in this nascent democracy (Emphasis ours).”

The Apex Court further held as follows:
This Court must take the lead, in righting the wrongs in our society, if and when the opportunity presents itself as in this appeal. Allowing criminality and certificate forgery to continue to percolate into the streams, waters and oceans of our national polity would only mean our waters are and will remain dangerously contaminated. The purification efforts must start now, and be sustained as we seek, as a nation, to now ‘change’ from our old culture of reckless impunity.

The Nigerian Constitution is supreme. It desires that no one who had ever presented forged certificate to INEC should contest election into Nigeria’s National Assembly. This is clear and sacrosanct…

More compelling as a judicial determination had been taken by no less a technical panel sitting in, at least, a panel of three judges as Election Tribunal with constitutional mandate to determine such issues as they relate to elections and its outcomes, including eligibility. This has also been affirmed by the trial Court in this appeal. On these issues, our duty is to apply the Constitution and the law in its start, original form undiluted by colourated interpretations.

Flowing from the above, disempowering concerned citizens who has no political interest from challenging the qualification of a candidate who presented false information or forged certificate to INEC will only allow criminality and certificate forgery to continue to percolate into the streams, waters and oceans of our national polity and would only mean our waters are and will remain dangerously contaminated.

Presentation of false information or forged Certificate to INEC is a violation of the provisions of the Constitution and any person who believes that there is a violation of the Constitution ought to be allowed to approach the court to seek redress.

On this point, it is also imperative to draw attention to some salient questions:
a. What happens where there is only one Aspirant or where there is a consensus candidate and same has presented a forged certificate or false information to INEC?
b. What happens where an Aspirant has been bought over by the political party or its candidate?

It is also pertinent to add for the enlightenment of the unlearned that INEC cannot unilaterally disqualify a candidate from participating in an election even if same is aware of any anomaly perpetrated by the candidate or his political party.

It is therefore opined that the National Assembly must forthwith amend the provision of Section 29(5) of the Electoral Act to allow any person who believes that a candidate has submitted false information or forged certificate to INEC to approach the Court to seek a declaration of same.

On Limiting jurisdiction to challenge the qualification of a candidate and conduct of primary election to only the Federal High Court.

A careful perusal of Section 29(5) and Section 84(14) of the New Electoral Act clearly shows that the only court with jurisdiction to entertain any pre-election matter and any suit challenging presentation of false information to INEC is the Federal High Court.

The implication of the above is that the Federal High Court is spooked with a lot of pre-election matters.

One must not forget that there are other civil and criminal cases pending before the Court.

One therefore tend to wonder what befalls these other cases during pre-election period, particularly considering the limited number of judges and the fact that all pre-election matter must be concluded within a period of 180 days from the date of filing.

The Supreme Court in the case of LAU V. PDP & ORS (2017) LPELR-42800(SC) while commending the drafters of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) for making more courts available for Aspirants held as follows:
“Obviously, the law is not static, particularly in election matters, and what the lawmakers have done with the enactment of Section 87(9) of the Electoral Act, is to make more Courts available to aspirants, who complain that provisions of the Electoral Act and Guidelines of a Political Party, has not been complied with in nominating candidates. To insist on the narrow and limited jurisdiction exclusive to the Federal High Court under Section 251 (1) (q) (r) and {s) of the 1999 Constitution when it comes to election and election related matters, is to close the doors that was opened to such dissatisfied aspirants to seek redress in the other High Courts other than Federal High Court. This I will not do; and this issue is resolved in favour of the Appellant.”

As could be gleaned from the decision of the Apex Court, limiting the court with jurisdiction to challenge the qualification of a candidate and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and guidelines of a political party as done in Section 29(5) and Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 will clog the wheel of progress of politics in Nigeria, considering the large number of cases in the dockets of the Federal High Court and the limited number of Federal High Court judges.

Conclusion
On the backdrop of the above arguments and salient judicial authorities cited, it is therefore opined that to ensure free and fair election and sustenance of good governance in our polity, concerned members of the society, civil society organizations, members of the opposition party must be able to challenge the qualification of a candidate who has presented false information or forged certificate to INEC.

Similarly, the High Court of the States and the FCT should be donated with jurisdiction to entertain pre-election matters as same is time bound and requires expedite adjudication.

Ajulo, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), is the Managing Partner at Castle of Law, Nigeria.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect

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INEC: NBA ASKS SENATE TO DUMP BUHARI’S NOMINEE

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged Nigeria’s Senate not to confirm Ms. Lauretta Onochie as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioner.

In a statement by the Chairman of the Governing Council of NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Monday Ubani, the lawyers’ body said that “Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, a clearly partisan individual by the President, an individual who has in recent years publicly displayed her partisanship and undying support for the ruling Party in her utterances, conduct and interaction with the Public cannot and should not serve as INEC Commissioner, a role reserved for an unbiased Umpire. I on-behalf of the Nigerian Public urge the Senate to righteously reject her nomination and confirmation forthwith.”

The Senate leadership had recently directed its Committee on INEC to screen Onochie for possible confirmation.

Below is the full text of the statement.

Distinguished Senator Kabiru Gaya
Chairman Senate Committee on INEC
National Assembly Complex,
F.CT,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

OBJECTION FOR THE CONFIRMATION OF LAURETTA ONOCHIE AS INEC COMMISSIONER.

I write this letter of objection to your sir at this critical and turbulent times in our Nation’s history, and I strongly believe that the Senate as a democratic institution of this great Country, has what it takes at this trying times to save and preserve Nigeria from heckling down to hell.

Sometime in October 2020, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as an INEC Commissioner. Mrs Lauretta Onochie, who until her nomination by the President, served as the President’s Personal Assistant and was an unapologetic member of the ruling Party the All Progressive Congress (APC) hence, her nomination by the President as INEC Commissioner, a position that the law prescribes the holder of same should be non-partisan, is ultra-vires and unconstitutional.

Recently her name came up for confirmation by the senate after an initial set back, therefore, as a concerned Citizen of this great Country, and as a Constitutional Legal Practitioner with grave concern for the preservation and sustainability of our very fragile democracy, I hereby strongly object to the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie by the President and her intended confirmation of her nomination by the Senate.

Distinguished Senate Chairman, considering the reality of Nigeria today, with the high level of insecurity, ethnic tensions and mistrust among Citizens, the decline in trust and confidence by the Citizens in their elected officials and democratic institutions to mention a few, it is very important, that as the next election draws closer, whoever is to be nominated by the President to serve as INEC Commissioner, Chairman or as an unbiased Umpire for National elections must be in compliance with the law and must be persons that, the general public view as not being partisan or compromised in any form or manner.

Sir, Section 152 of the Electoral Act, provides that. “no person holding an elective office to which this act relates or a registered member of a Political Party shall be eligible for or be appointed to carry out duties of a returning officer, an electoral officer, presiding officer or Poll Clerk”. Therefore, the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, a clearly partisan individual by the President, an individual who has in recent years publicly displayed her partisanship and undying support for the ruling Party in her utterances, conduct and interaction with the Public cannot and should not serve as INEC Commissioner, a role reserved for an unbiased Umpire. I on-behalf of the Nigerian Public urge the Senate to righteously reject her nomination and confirmation forthwith.

For emphasis;

As a card carrying member of the ruling party or any other party for that matter, she is unfit for the position she is nominated. I also doubt that Section 154 (3) of the constitution was complied with, which prescribe that the President nominates INEC Commissioner in consultation with the Council of State. Paragraphs B of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule of the constitution provides that the Council of State shall have power to advise the President in the exercise of his power with respect to (iv) the INEC including the appointment of members of the Commission. When was this Section and paragraph complied with? If I may ask.

Most importantly paragraph 14 of part I of the third schedule of the constitution as amended in Section 30 No. 1 of 2020, a member of INEC should be “non partisan”, can Mrs. Lauretta Onochie be regarded by anyone in Nigeria, knowing her antecedent as the Special Assistant to the President as “non partisan” under the Nigerian context? The right answer is No.

I therefore, on behalf of the Nigerian Bar Association urge that her nomination be rejected and her confirmation be denied forthwith.

Thanking you in advance for the positive consideration of my request.

Dr. Monday O. Ubani, Esq.
Chairman
NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law.

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NBA Blasts INEC On Controversial Osun Election

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has criticised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the controversial Osun State Governorship Election. Continue Reading