The Senate has rejected Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner for the electoral umpire, INEC.
The rejection of Ms Onochie’s controversial appointment was sequel to the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on INEC which had the responsibility of screening Ms Onochie and the other nominees.
The committee chairman, Kabiru Gaya, who presented the report, recommended that Ms Onochie’s appointment be rejected.
Mr Gaya said she was disqualified based on federal character principles. He also added that there is currently a serving commissioner from Delta State, where she hails from.
Ms Onochie, currently the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State – an appointment which had triggered outrage among Nigerians as many described it as unconstitutional.
Many called on the president to withdraw the nomination on grounds that Ms Onochie is partisan and so it would be undemocratic for her to be appointed into such an office. Some civil society organisations also wrote petitions to the Senate opposing Ms Onochie’s appointment. The main opposition party, PDP, had also protested against her nomination.
Despite the criticisms, the Senate went ahead to screen her last Thursday.
At the screening exercise, Ms 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 Ms Onochie was rejected while the lawmakers confirmed five other nominees.
They are Muhammad Kallah, Kunle Ajayi, Babura Ahmad, Sani Adam and Abdullahi Zuru.
The confirmation of one nominee, Baba Bila, was stepped down. The chairman said the panel will revisit his nomination.