Lawan Asks Senate Panel To Screen Lauretta Onochie As INEC Commissioner Months After Public Outrage

Lawan Asks Senate Panel To Screen Lauretta Onochie As INEC Commissioner Months After Public Outrage
L-R: Lauretta Onochie and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has on Wednesday, June 9 asked committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to screen Lauretta Onochie, a presidential aide, as commissioner of the electoral body.

Lawan’s directive comes eight months after President Muhammadu Buhari asked the upper legislative chamber to screen and confirm her.

Buhari first submitted Onochie’s name for confirmation in October 2020, alongside the names of Muhamad Sani, Kunle Cornelius Ajayi, and Seidu Ahmad.

However, this was met by outrage from many Nigerians who condemned the nomination as it is required that INEC officials are non-partisan and unaffiliated with political parties; but Onochie is a member of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Some senators, mostly from the leading opposition party and some from APC and civil society groups kicked against her nomination, saying she was “too partisan” to be a commissioner in an important institution like INEC.

Onochie works as Buhari’s aide on social media since appointment in 2015, and has been in the news over controversies involving opposition politicians or other Nigerians.

Opposition senators said that by nominating Onochie, Buhari had “willfully gone against the constitution he swore to uphold,” and urged him to withdraw it.

Item F, paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card carrying member of a political party to be a member of the INEC,’’ Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, quoted in a short statement.

Also, National Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan, said the nomination supported the position of the party that Buhari’s statements “were mere glib talks on electoral sanctity and clearly demonstrates that he has no plans whatsoever to leave a legacy of credible polls.”

More details to come.

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