Why the Senate Rejected Lauretta Onochie’s Nomination as INEC Commissioner

The nomination of Lauretta Onochie, the current Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, was rejected by the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday.

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Lauretta Onochie as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State in October 2020. Her nomination attracted criticism among many Nigerians, members of opposition parties, who believe she is too partisan to serve as an INEC commissioner.

She said emphatically that she is not nonpartisan during her screening on Thursday, July 8. She emphasized, however, that she had distanced herself from all political matters since President Buhari was re-elected. She claims that she has had no involvement with any political party since 2019.

According to the statement, Senate Chairman Kabiru Gaya of Kano South (APC) recommended that her nomination be rejected in a report to the plenary on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

INEC already has a sitting National Commissioner from Delta State, Mary Agbamuche-Mbu, who was previously vetted and confirmed by the 8th Senate, making Lauretta Onochie’s confirmation a violation of federal character principles, according to the senator.

Therefore, based on the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) on Federal Character Principle as earlier stated, and in order for the Committee and the Senate to achieve fairness to other states and political zones in the country, the committee is unable to recommend Ms. Lauretta Onochie for confirmation as a National Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The report was accepted, and Onochie was rejected. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru (North-West), Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina), Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Baba Bila (North-East), and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa) have all been reportedly confirmed by the Senate.

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