The Senate has rejected the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner.
Presenting a report on the screening of the nominees during Tuesday’s plenary session, the chairman of the committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said Onochie’s nomination was rejected because there is a serving INEC commissioner representing Delta state.
The rejection also followed the massive outcry that has trailed her nomination, especially from members of the opposition and civil society organisations who claim she is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In its decision to reject Onochie’s nomination, the Senators said it had received several petitions against Onochie.
Also, nominating her would contravene the Federal Character Principle, the Senators said, according to a statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, a spokesperson to the Senate President.
Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed five other nominees as INEC Commissioners.
Those confirmed include 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).
Former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, is among those who had kicked against 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 Monday on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the Senate in October 2020, to confirm the appointment of Onochie who is currently his media aide on Social Media, and three others as Commissioners of INEC.
In her introductory remarks during her screening last Thursday, Onochie, however, insisted she is not partisan.
While noting that she had seen the petitions against her which were not only from the opposition but also from people in the APC, she said it was because she is known to be non-partisan and someone who insists on due process.
Onochie, however, insisted that since President Buhari won his second term, she has removed herself from all things political.
According to her, from 2019 till date she has not had anything to do with any political organisation and did not partake in APC’s recent validation exercise.
Meanwhile, the Senate also set aside the confirmation of Professor Sani Adam as INEC Commissioner from North-Central.
Professor Sani Adams was dropped because of petitions written against him.