The Senate on Thursday started the screening of nominees for appointment as National Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The nominees are Professor Muhammad Sani Kallah(Katsina); Professor, Kunle Cornelius Ajayi(Ekiti); Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa);Professor Sani Muhammad Adam(North-Central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North East).
The nominees also include President Buhari’s aide, Lauretta Onochie.
Onochie arrived at the Senate wing of the National Assembly about 11 am; accompanied by the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Babajide Omoworare.
She was immediately ushered into the office of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabri Gaya. Onochie is currently waiting for her turn to be screened by the Senate panel.
Moves against Lauretta Onochie’s Nomination
Lauretta Onochie’s nomination has seamlessly triggered public outcry, but Nigeria’s Senate moves on to screen her.
In June, a youth-focused nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nongovernmental organization that advances good governance, democratic rights, public policy, public engagement and sustainable economy, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) expressed concern on the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, a political appointee and Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Social Media as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), representing the South-South geo-political zone.
KDI in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Bukola Idowu, said her affiliation with the All Progressive Congress (APC) makes her unfit as a National Commissioner.
The organization added that the nomination of a political affiliate negates section 156(1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides as follows:
156 (1) No person shall be qualified for appointment as a member of any of the bodies aforesaid if (a)He is not qualified or if he is disqualified for the election as a member of the House of Representatives; provided that a member of any of these bodies shall not be required to belong to a political party, and in the case of the Independent National Electoral Commission, he shall not be a member of a Political Party.
It also stated that, Item F, paragraph 14 (2) (a) of the third schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria forbids a partisan politician as a member of INEC. It provides as follows:
14 (2) (a) A member of the Commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.
On Wednesday, June 30, the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) also joined other groups calling for the rejection of Lauretta Onochie’s nomination as an INEC commissioner.
Executives and supporters of the party led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, stormed the entrance of the National Assembly around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday to kick against her nomination.
The PDP said Onochie is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress; and by virtue of her political affiliation with the APC, she is not fit and proper to be appointed as an election officer.