THE Senate on Wednesday referred the name of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie, to its Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for screening as a National Commissioner of the commission representing Delta State.
This happened about eight months after President Muhammdu Buhari had forwarded Onochie’s name and five other nominees to the Senate for confirmation.
Onochie’s nomination had generated controversy with critical stakeholders arguing that her choice was not in order in view of her alleged “artisanship and identification” with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Other nominees also referred to the Committee on INEC include Prof. Mohammed Sani representing Katsina; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Seidu Babura Ahmed (Jigawa), Prof. Sani Mohammad Adam (Northcentral) and Dr. Baba Bila (Northeast).
President Buhari had, in his letter of nomination read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, said the appointments were pursuant to Paragraph 14 of Part 1F of the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
President Buhari’s letter of nomination, dated October 12, 2020, was read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan on October 13, 2020, making it exactly eight months before the nominees were officially referred to the relevant committee for further legislative work.
Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), in seconding the motion, said he was surprised that Onochie’s name resurfaced after the matter had been dealt with.
He said: “In seconding this motion, let me point out that our people say that it is not when we have passed the evil forest that the demon will still catch us.
“Mr. (Senate) President, we had dealt with the matter of the nomination of Lauretta Onochie. So, we feel surprised that the same name has resurfaced, no longer as a National Commissioner but now as a Delta State commissioner.
“Mr. President, reluctantly, I second the motion that these nominations be referred to the relevant committee for action, and we shall meet in Philippi.”
Before referring the nominees to the Senate Committee on INEC, Senate President Ahmad Lawan reacted to the comment made by Abaribe.
Lawan said: “Thank you very much Minority Leader. But before I put the question, let me clarify an issue.
“The nominees are not State Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs). They are National Commissioners, and there was no change of request. I think we need to clear the air on that.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, urged those who considered that Onochie is not qualified to be appointed as a National Commissioner for the INEC to petition the committee with proofs.
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