The Nigerian Senate has rejected Lauretta Onochie’s nomination as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The resolution of the senate came as a result of opposition from Kabir Gaya who said her nomination breaches Federal Character principles, Civil Society Organisations, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other Nigerians.
Apart from saying Lauretta was disqualified based on federal character principles, Kabir Gaya also added that there is currently a serving commissioner from Delta State, where she hails from.
Kabir Gaya cited Section 14 (1) 3 of the Constitution, stating that somebody was already a Commissioner from her zone, and the law remains clear about that.
Onochie is currently the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media. She was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State – an appointment that had elicited outrage among Nigerians as many described it as unconstitutional.
Many including the Peoples Democratic Party, Civil Society Organisations who wrote petitions called on the president to withdraw the nomination on grounds that Onochie is partisan and so it would be undemocratic for her to be appointed.
At the screening exercise, Onochie described herself as ‘madam due process’. She told the Senate panel that she quit politics in 2019 and that she is no longer partisan – a claim which turned out to be false.
“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”.
“Since Buhari was elected as president for the second term, I have removed myself from everything about politics. Since 2019, I don’t have anything to do with politics. As I am sitting down here, I am not a member of any political party in this country,” she told the panel.
The report of the Senate committee was adopted in the Committee of the Whole and Lauretta Onochie was rejected while the lawmakers confirmed five other nominees.
The names of the people confirmed include; Muhammad Kallah, Kunle Ajayi, Babura Ahmad, Sani Adam and Abdullahi Zuru.
However, the confirmation of one nominee, Baba Bila, was stepped down. The chairman said the panel is to revisit his nomination.