The Senate at its plenary session of Tuesday, 13 July 2021 rejected the appointment of Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner representing South-South at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Presenting the report of the Committee on INEC, the Chairman, Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC: Kano) informed lawmakers that the Committee had received several petitions against Ms. Onochie which bordered on partisanship, being a member of a political party, engaging in political campaigns on social media, and violation of Federal Character Principle.
In his submission, Sen Gaya explained that Ms. Onochie during the screening exercise, had responded to the various petitions by refuting claims of belonging to the All Progressive Congress (APC) Party (as her Membership was not revalidated), of being sympathetic to any political party, of promoting activities of any political party through media appearances and related social media engagements.
However, Sen. Gaya noted that the Committee, in line with the provisions of section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on Federal Character Principle had rejected the nomination of Ms. Onochie. It states that:
13 (4) “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies”.
had rejected the nomination of Ms. Onochie.
In addition, the Committee had observed that Barr. Agbamuche May, a National Commissioner from Delta State in INEC who was confirmed by the Senate in 2016 is still in service. Therefore, the confirmation of Ms. Onochie an indigene of Delta State will be a violation of the aforementioned provision.
The Senate also, stepped down the confirmation of Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam (SAN) as National Commissioner representing the North Central for further legislative actions. Sen. Gaya had mentioned that a petition against Prof. Adam on an incident which occurred on 15 August 2001, while he was a lecturer at the University of Jos required further investigation, although he had presented a clearance issued by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the matter.
It will be recalled that the Senate on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 had considered the request of the President, Muhammadu Buhari on the confirmation of 7 nominees for appointment as National Commissioners for INEC and was referred to the Committee on Wednesday, 9 July 2021 for further legislative action.