[UPDATED] Eight Months After, Lawan Asks Senate Panel To Screen Lauretta Onochie As INEC Commissioner


…As Abaribe Kicks

The Senate on Wednesday referred the name of the Special Assistant on Social Media to the President, Lauretta Onochie, to the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for screening as a National Commissioner of INEC representing Delta State.

This is coming about eight months after President Muhammdu Buhari 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 ‘partisanship and identification’ with the 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), Professor Sani Mohammad Adam (North Central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North East).

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).

The letter reads in part: “Pursuant to Paragraph 14 of Part I(F) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, I hereby forward for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of the following Commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Buhari’s letter of nomination dated October 12, 2020 was read on the floor of the Senate 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, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), in seconding the motion said he is surprised that Onochie’s name resurfaced again after the matter had been dealt with.

Abaribe 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. 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 comments 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. They are National Commissioners and there was no change of request. I think we need to clear the air on that.”

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