By Mukwuzi Joseph
The Senate on Tuesday bowed to pressure from Civil Society Organisations, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other Nigerians and refused to confirm the Special Assistant on new media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Lauretta Onochie from Delta as a Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The refusal was based on Federal Character Principle and to adhere strictly to the Act, just as the Senate said that she is from Delta and the state has May Agbamuche who is the Chairman, Legal Services, INEC.
The resolution of the Senate was sequel to the consideration of the Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South led Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Ms Onochie, currently the Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State – an appointment which had triggered outrage among Nigerians as many described it as unconstitutional.
Many 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. Some civil society organisations also wrote petitions to the Senate opposing Ms Onochie’s appointment. The main opposition party, PDP, had also protested against her nomination.
Despite the criticisms, the Senate went ahead to screen her last Thursday.
At the screening exercise, Ms Onochie described herself as ‘madam due process’. She told the Senate panel that she quit politics in 2019 and that she is no longer partisan– a claim which turned out to be false
“I have seen the petitions against me but I stand for justice and fairness. Thus nobody has anything to fear. I am madam due process and this is the reason behind my attacks, because I follow the law and due process.