Senate rejects the candidacy of Lauretta Onochie, a presidential assistant, as an Independent National Electoral Commission commissioner (INEC).
The rejection of Onochie’s controversial appointment was a sequel to the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC which had the responsibility of screening Onochie and the other nominees.
The committee chairman, Kabiru Gaya, who presented the report, recommended that Onochie’s appointment be rejected, saying her nomination breaches Federal Character principles.
Kabiru Gaya cited Section 14 (1) 3 of the Constitution, stating that there is currently a serving commissioner from Delta state, where Onochie hails from.
Onochie, currently the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State – an appointment which had triggered outrage among Nigerians as many described it as unconstitutional.
Onochie’s nomination has been surrounded by controversy as many Nigerians including political pundits opposed her nomination on the grounds that she is partisan and a member of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some civil society organizations also wrote petitions to the Senate opposing Onochie’s appointment. The main opposition party, PDP, also protested against her nomination.
Also expressing disapproval, Attahiru Jega, former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday called for the withdrawal of thenomination.
In an interview on Channels Television, Jega who presided over the election that brought in President Muhammadu Buhari said the controversy trailing Onochie’s nomination should have been avoided.
He said the controversy surrounding her nomination is not good for the integrity of elections she may oversee if she is confirmed.
Additionally, Jega called on the lawmakers to apply the laws regarding the issue, in order to avoid a situation whereby elections she participates in may be viewed as being bias.
However, the presidential aide said she resigned her membership of the ruling party in 2019.
Despite the criticisms, the Senate went ahead to screen her last Thursday and while there, Onochie said contrary to public claims, she does not belong to any political party.
At the screening exercise, Onochie told the Senate panel that she quit politics in 2019 and that she is no longer partisan.
I have seen the petitions against me but I stand for justice and fairness. Thus nobody has anything to fear. I am madam due process and this is the reason behind my attacks, because I follow the law and due process.