Senate Screens Lauretta Onochie, Others for INEC Job
The Senate on Thursday started the screening of nominees for appointment as National Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The nominees, including one of the aides of the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Lauretta Onochie, are already in the Senate for the exercise.
Onochie arrived at the Senate wing of the National Assembly about 11 am; accompanied by the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Babajide Omoworare.
She was immediately ushered into the office of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabri Gaya.
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The nomination of Onochie, who currently serves as Senior Special Assistant on New Media to President Buhari, has provoked serious public outcry with the Peoples Democratic Party, kicking against her nomination.
The PDP said Onochie is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress; and by virtue of her political affiliation with the APC, she is not fit and proper to be appointed as an election officer.
The party argued that Onochie would pollute the atmosphere of neutrality, and fair play in the Commission if the Senate goes ahead to approve her nomination.
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In her introductory remarks, Onochie said she is not partisan. She admitted that she had seen the petitions against her which are not only from the opposition but also from people in the APC. She said the opposition to her candidacy is because she is known to be non-partisan and someone who insists on due process and the right thing to be done.
However, Committee members questioned her stance on non-partisanship.
Senator Istifanus Gyang queried that one of the petitions against her has an affidavit affirming her membership of the APC.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu in his contribution said he is worried that her nomination is flouting the principle of Federal character.
He explained that there is a nominee already from Delta State whose tenure will soon expire and Lauretta is being nominated for the second slot for the South-South which should go round the southern states, however, the nomination means that for a second time the position is going again to Delta State to the exclusion of the other Niger Delta states.
Ekweremadu advised her to withdraw her nomination to preserve the integrity of President Buhari.
However, Senator Lawal Gumau said there is nothing wrong with her nomination and maintained that all the petitions against her are sentiments.
In her response, Onochie explained that the INEC National Commissioner who Senator Ekweremadu made reference is May Agbamuche Mgbu.
According to Onochie, Mgbu was nominated under her husband’s state – Cross River and not Delta State. She explained that since President Buhari won his second term, she has removed herself from all things political.
She maintained that from 2019 till date she has not had anything to do with any political organisation and did not partake in APC’s validation exercise.
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Other nominees include Professor Muhammad Sani Kallah(Katsina); Professor, Kunle Cornelius Ajayi(Ekiti), and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa).
They also included Professor Sani Muhammad Adam(North-Central); Dr. Baba Bila (North East).