Before she was rejected by the Senate on Wednesday, Lauretta Onochie told its committee on INEC that she was a private person and rarely talked.
All of these ‘declarations’ that Ms Onochie made were in response to petitions written against her. The Senate panel had presented the petitions and asked her to respond to them during the screening exercise.
Ms Onochie, the personal assistant to the president on New Media, was being screened for her appointment as a national commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission – having been appointed over eight months ago by President Muhammadu Buhari to represent Delta State, where she hails from.
Nigerians had asked the president to withdraw her nomination on grounds that she is partisan and it would be unconstitutional for her to be appointed into such an office.
Although her nomination was rejected by the Senate, Ms Onochie made some brow-raising comments during her screening exercise, most of which are contained in the panel’s report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
The committee, in its report, said several petitions against Ms Onochie were submitted on grounds of violation of federal character principle, partisanship, being a card-carrying member of the APC and using her social media accounts fake news campaign strategies – all of which she was asked to respond to.
In her defense, Ms Onochie debunked the claims against her.
According to the report, while she admitted to being a one-time registered and card-carrying member of the APC and member of the “Buhari Support Organisation”, she said she is presently neither a registered nor card-carrying member of the party, since she did not register as an APC Member during the last APC re-validation exercise.
In response to her social media activities, “she stated that she is a private individual who rarely talks about herself and ceased all Television and Radio appearances since President Buhari’s second term election.”
On her partisanship, “she categorically denied being sympathetic to any political party and stopped all activities since the year 2019.”
She also gave the assurance that “if confirmed, there will be no biased bone in her body’ and acclaimed herself as ‘Madam Due Process’.”
Despite the numerous petitions however, the Senate panel only deemed it necessary to reject Ms Onochie on grounds of breach of federal character principle.
“In the case of Ms Onochie’s…the Committee, bound by the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution on Federal Character Principle… the Senate may wish to recall that in 2016, the Senate based on the recommendation of its INEC Committee confirmed Barr. May Agbamuche-Mbu from Delta State as a National Commissioner in INEC, who is still serving.
“…Confirming the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie from the same Delta State will be a violation of the Federal Character Principle. Therefore, based on the provisions of Section 14(3) of the Constitution…and in order for the Committee and the Senate to achieve fairness to other states and political zones in the county, the Committee is unable to recommend Ms. Lauretta Onochie for confirmation as a National Electoral Commissioner for INEC but would rather recommend to the Senate to request that the President makes another nomination,” the report read.
Many have hailed the Senate for rejecting her nomination, describing it as a win for democracy.
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