The Senate on Tuesday said the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, an aide to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was rejected because of her partisanship and breach of federal character principle.
Onochie’s nomination had attracted condemnation from a large section of Nigerians who argue that she is too partisan to be an INEC commissioner.
In a statement titled, ‘Senate confirms five nominees as INEC Commissioners, rejects Lauretta Onochie’, by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, on Tuesday.
The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), as saying that the committee also received several petitions against the nomination of Onochie.
He disclosed that the petitions against Lauretta Onochie were against the backdrop of her involvement in politics and alleged membership of a political party.
He explained further that her nomination violated the Federal Character Principle as there is already a serving National Electoral Commissioner from Delta State, Barr. Mary Agbamuche-Mbu who was screened and confirmed by the 8th Senate.
“In the case of Ms. Lauretta Onochie’s, having studied her curriculum vitae and other relevant documents, followed by exhaustive interaction around the petitions against her nomination which she responded to accordingly, including attesting that she is not a registered member of any political party”, Gaya said.
According to the lawmaker, the Committee bound by the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amendment) on Federal Character Principle, refused to recommend Onochie for confirmation.
“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,” he explained.
However, the Senate confirmed five other nominees followed the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on INEC.
The Red Chamber also suspended the nomination of Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam (North Central) for further investigation by the committee.
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).
On the nomination against Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam, the committee recommended that “his confirmation be stepped down pending further legislative action by the committee.
“Accordingly, the Senate while confirming the five nominees, adopted the recommendations of the Committee by rejecting Onochie’s nomination and stepping down that of Professor Adam for further action.”