Protest as Senate resumes Onochie’s confirmation as INEC commissioner

Eight months after her nomination as national commissioner representing Delta State in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was frustrated due to public outcry, the Senate, yesterday, resurrected the confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on New Media, Lauretta Onochie, for the position.

To kick-start the opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers, led by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, accused the aide of unnecessarily casting aspersions on their party.

They also faulted the idea of making Onochie, a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) an INEC official.

Others billed for confirmation are Prof. Muhammad Kallah (Katsina); Prof. Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti); Saidu Ahmad (Jigawa); Prof. Sani Adam (North Central) and Dr. Baba Bila (North East).

Consequently, Senate President Ahmad Lawan gave the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led panel four weeks to conclude its assignment and report back to the upper legislative chamber at plenary.

The October 2020 objection originated from civil society organisations (CSOs), including the Situation Room and Senator Dino Melaye.

In a statement, the Situation Room, a coalition of civic groups, said the constitution forbids a partisan politician as member of INEC – a body charged under the constitution to conduct free and fair elections.

Its convener, Clement Nwankwo, who signed the document, maintained that Onochie’s nomination “is a major attempt at undermining efforts to build credibility for an improved electoral process in the country.”

The group insisted: “Should the President fail to withdraw this nomination, the Nigerian Senate is hereby called upon to disregard her nomination without any consideration whatsoever.

“Situation Room is also calling on the Nigerian Senate to investigate all of the other nominations by the President, as there are concerns that some of these nominations may have been influenced by self-serving interests.

“It is important for Nigeria that the composition of INEC is transparently non-partisan and independent of partisan political manipulation.”

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