Nigeria: Eight Months After, Senate Moves to Screen Lauretta Onochie

The appointment of Ms Onochie as INEC REC by President Muhammadu Buhari in October last year, drew outrage from some Nigerians.

The Senate is set to commence screening of presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, who was appointed as a commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, directed the Senate Committee on INEC to commence screening.

Ms Onochie was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC resident electoral commissioner to represent Delta State.

The president, in a letter to the Senate, announced the appointment and sought the lawmakers' confirmation.

Although Ms Onochie was appointed alongside three other nominees, her appointment generated outrage, with some Nigerians describing it as unconstitutional.

Both individuals and civic groups have since called on the president to withdraw the nomination on grounds that Ms Onochie is partisan and so it would be undemocratic for her to be appointed into such an office.

Many have also said her appointment could jeopardise the credibility of future elections.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how her appointment violates Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states that "a member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity."

The Constitution declares that appointees to the electoral body must be non-partisan and also not a card-carrying member of any political party. This is, however, not the case with Ms Onochie, who had openly displayed partisanship and total support for the president and the All Progressives Congress in general.

Before the president's request for confirmation was referred to the committee, the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, kicked against her nomination and wondered why another nominee had not been sent to the Senate to replace her.

More details later...

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