Plot to confirm Laureata Onochie as INEC Commissioner thickens 

July 11, 2021
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Plot to confirm Laureata Onochie as INEC Commissioner thickens 

Posted by News Express | 11 July 2021 | 51 times

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•Presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie

Amidst public uproar trailing President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of his Personal Assistant on Social Media, Ms Lauretta Onochie, as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there are indications that the Senate may confirm her on Tuesday. 

The Senate Committee on INEC chaired by a former Kano State governor and Senator representing Kano South, Kabiru Gaya, concluded screening of Onochie and five other nominees on Friday and would lay its report before the Red Chamber on Tuesday. 

Those screened last Thursday alongside with Lauretta Onochie who is to represent Delta State included Professor Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina); Professor Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti); Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa); Professor Sani Muhammad Adam SAN (North Central) and Dr Baba Bila (North East). 

A Senator, who is a member of the Senate Committee on INEC, told Sunday Tribune that the accusation that the nominee is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress had been settled with a formal letter from the national secretariat of the ruling party which stated it that she was never a card-carrying member of the ruling party. 

The Sunday Tribune source further argued that Onochie clarified the misconception that her confirmation could accord double representation for Delta State in the Commission, which could be a breach of the provisions of the Federal Character Commission enshrined in the constitution. 

He said: “In the petitions against her, she was accused of being a member of the APC. “Of course, the constitution specifically declares that appointees to the electoral body must be non-partisan and also not be a card-carrying member of any political party. 

“Section 14 (2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that “a member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.

“Note the word “shall”— that is futuristic. What it means is that at no time, whether in the past or present, will a card-carrying member of any political party be eligible to serve in the electoral umpire. 

“But the APC wrote to the committee to state that she was never a member of the party. 

“She also cleared the doubt on double nominee for Delta State. She told us that, yes, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, INEC National Commissioner and chairman Legal Services of the commission is from Delta but she married to a citizen from Cross Rivers State and she is representing Cross Rivers, not Delta.” 

Investigation by Sunday Tribune revealed that lawmakers from the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are smarting for a showdown as they have vowed to raise their voices against her nomination. 

Before the committee screened the nominees, the PDP had written a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, insisting that she should be pronounced ineligible for the position.

The letter dated 30th June 2021 titled, “Rejection of the Nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC Commissioner,” the PDP called on the Senate Committee to reject her nomination as it noted that “Mrs Onochie cannot be neutral or independent as she is factually known to be an unrepentant card-carrying member of the APC with an uncountable number of proofs.”

…PDP set for showdown with NASS over Onochie, Electoral Act amendment

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is contemplating its next move should the Senate go ahead to confirm presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Despite stiff opposition to the nomination over her well known partisan antecedent, the Senate had gone ahead to screen her, signaling that the lawmakers may indeed ignore the sentiments of many stakeholders who doubt her ability to be non-partisan in an electoral umpire’s role. 

The main opposition party is now living every option on the table as it affirms that it will not allow the lawmakers to jeopardise the nation’s democratic process by acts that it says may imperil future elections in the country, particularly the 2023 polls. 

Even though it is still keeping its options to its chest, the PDP has hinted that it may mobilise Nigerians and the international community to rally round the move to stop the Senate from “this antidemocratic” action.

Party sources affirmed the PDP’s belief to Sunday Tribune that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is desperate to retain power in 2023, hence, it has engaged in acts to compromise the electoral body such as the appointment of a well known APC card-carrying member.

The PDP has already pro- tested to the National Assembly, organising a rally at the premises and writing a letter addressed to the chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya. 

The party’s National Publicity Secretary said: “With her lies, Lauretta Onochie, a dyed-in-the-wool APC member, whose name appears as number 2 on the ward 4 register of the APC in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State, has further demonstrated her lack of integrity to be trusted with the position of a national commissioner in INEC. 

“Onochie in her escapade in the Senate, may have forgotten that the lawmakers and Nigerians in general are aware of her subsisting oath filed in a pending suit in court affirming her membership of the APC, which she further reinforced and ad- opted under cross-examination in the same matter very recently.

“With such proclivity to desperate denials in the face of the truth, allowing Lauretta Onochie, anywhere near INEC, would pollute the commission as well as the conduct of elections by the commission.” 

Ologbondiyan stated that the PDP would resist Onochie’s appointment because “this ugly development is another shameful attempt to plant unscrupulous elements in INEC in order to corrupt and further desecrate the sanctity of the commission, undermine our electoral system and destabilise our democratic process ahead of the 2023 general election.” 

The party has, therefore, told the Senate not to test the will of Nigerians by pitching itself against their will saying that the consequence of such “arrogant derision to the definite provision of the 1999 Constitution as well as the precise demands by the people can cost the institution its respect with the people.” 

The PDP is also irked over the National Assembly’s attitude to the amendment of the Electoral Act particularly the need to include the electronic transfer of election results.

The party is, therefore, pressing ahead with its efforts to get the international community to pressure the APC administration to act on the provision or risk sanctions. PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has already approached the European Union (EU), appealing to the organisation to review their support and partnership programmes with Nigeria with a view to strengthening the operations of democracy in the country. Secondus said that the EU should also consider reviewing its sanction policies for governments and democratic institutions that are not playing by the rules. 

The PDP boss noted the reluctance of the ruling party to carry out further electoral reforms that will enable free, fair and transparent elections in the country. 

“I urge you, EU officials to sit down with the INEC and insist that the right things are done and to also put necessary pressure for the passage and signing of amended Electoral Act,” he told the EU. Secondus also noted that without the passage of the Electoral Act amendment that would enable direct transmission of results from the polling unit, 2023 polls might be difficult to handle. “You must find a way to sanction INEC or any agency that receives (assistance) from you but not playing by the rules,” the party boss implored the EU. (Sunday Tribune)


Source: News Express


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