Former INEC chief, Jega, urges Buhari to withdraw Onochie’s nomination as commissioner
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof Attahiru Jega, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari against the appointment of his aide, Lauretta Onochie as a Commissioner of the electoral body.
Jega argued that the controversy surrounding Onochie’s nomination is not good for the integrity of elections she may oversee if she is confirmed.
Many Nigerians have opposed the nomination, saying Onochie is partisan and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
However, Onochie, during her screening by the Senate Committee last Thursday, denied the claims that she was a member of the ruling APC, saying she resigned her membership of the party since 2019 after Buhari won the election.
But speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ on Sunday, Jega maintained that it was likely that any election supervised by Onochie that involves the APC will “still generate controversy”.
He said: “This kind of controversy is really avoidable. Any person who generated such a controversy, the appointing authorities should be careful because you don’t want to appoint anybody that can raise suspicions or doubts or can lead to a loss of trust of the electoral management body.
“I’m sorry to say that from some of the documents that I have been privileged to see, both about her British citizenship and the very active participation in a political party up until 2019, you will try to avoid appointing such people into an electoral commission — because it can generate controversy.
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“To be honest, the president can also withdraw that nomination. After all, there are so many women with credibility, with capacity, competence in both Delta and across Rivers, so why bring someone that will generate controversy and raise suspicions about the intention of the appointment.”
Jega also criticised the move by the leadership of the National Assembly to block the proposed electronic transmission of election results.
He said denying INEC the opportunity will be very counterproductive and will undermine future elections.
“When one looks at the draft of the electoral bill currently in circulation, which the national assembly hopes to pass before they go on recess, with regards to utilisation of technology, there is a very contradictory provision there. While they permitted INEC to use electronic voting, they now said provided that INEC does not use electronic transmission of results. It is really counterproductive.
“Electronic transmission will ensure that the traditional fraudulent activities of changing results from the collation centres will now be things of the past, so our lawmakers must recognise how important it is.
“And frankly, not permitting electronic transmission of results will even create an impression that the legislators are afraid and unconcerned about the integrity of results,” Jega added.
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