The Senate Rejects the Nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC commissioner

At last the Nigerian Senate, Tuesday, rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. This followed the submission of the screening report by the Committee on INEC during plenary, recommending the rejection of the nominee.Kabiru Gaya, chairman of the committee, said Onochie’s nomination was rejected because there is a serving INEC commissioner representing Delta State. Onochie, personal assistant to the President on New Media, was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State –There was massive outcry against her nomination as the law provides for non-partisan members of the committee. Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, civil society organisations, and other well-meaning stakeholders, protested vehemently that she is a card-carrying member of APC. An alleged APC membership register of her ward in Aniocha in Delta State uploaded online showed that she was second on the register.At the screening, Onochie told the Committee that she had quit politics in 2019 and was no longer partisan, a claim which turned out not to be true. She also claimed she did not participate in APC’s recent membership revalidation exercise.In rejecting Onochie’s nomination, the Senate further explained that they had received several petitions against her. A statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, a spokesperson to the Senate President, said that nominating her contravened the Federal Character Principle.Attahiru Jega, former INEC chairman, was among those who faulted the nomination. “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,” he said on a Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, on Monday.Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesperson, said in a statement Tuesday, that the “rejection of Lauretta Onochie by Nigerians has saved the nation from very serious crisis as well as salvaged INEC and the entire Nigerian electoral process from a ruinous pollution that would have led to the collapse of our democratic order. “Onochie’s vexatious nomination, in total affront to paragraph 14 of the 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution, (as amended) was a very dangerous machination by the Buhari-led APC Presidency against our electoral process, in the attempt to subvert the will of the people in the 2023 elections.”

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