Senate: Why We Rejected Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

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The Nigerian Senate has been giving reasons on why it rejected the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The rejection of Onochie’s nomination was based on a report tendered by the Senate Committee on INEC. The Committee said it received numerous petitions submitted in opposition to her nomination.

According to the Senate, her nomination was rejected because of her partisanship and breach of the federal character principle.

This was contained in a statement titled: ‘Senate confirms five nominees as INEC Commissioners, rejects Lauretta Onochie’ by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, on Tuesday.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, in the report presented during plenary on Tuesday argued that the nomination of Onochie breached the Federal Character principles, noting that there is already a serving National Electoral Commissioner from Delta State, Barr. Mary Agbamuche-Mbu who was screened and confirmed by the 8th Senate.

“In the case of Ms. Lauretta Onochie’s, having studied her curriculum vitae and other relevant documents, followed by exhaustive interaction around the petitions against her nomination which she responded to accordingly, including attesting that she is not a registered member of any political party,” Gaya said.

“Therefore, based on the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) on Federal Character Principle as earlier stated, and in order for the Committee and the Senate to achieve fairness to other states and political zones in the country, the committee is unable to recommend Ms. Lauretta Onochie for confirmation as a National Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Also, the confirmation of Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam (North Central) was “stepped down pending further legislative action by the committee.”

However, Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru (North-West), Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina), Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Dr. Baba Bila (North-East), and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa) were all confirmed as INEC Federal Commissioner.

Onochie, who is the Special Assistant on Social Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, was nominated as a Federal Commissioner to represent the South-South Zone of Nigeria by the President.

Onochie’s nomination has generated widespread opposition from Nigerians including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Civil Society Organisations, with many insisting she is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Onochie who appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC, last week admitted that she was once a member of the APC, but said she’s no longer a card-carrying member of the party.

Onochie stated that she stopped being a member of the party before the 2019 general elections.

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