Eight months after President Muhammadu Buhari sent the names of his Personal Assistant on Social Media, Ms Lauretta Onochie and five others for confirmation as nominees for the position of National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the list again surfaced on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.
President Buhari had in a letter dated October 12, 2020, and read during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan sought the Red Chamber confirmation of the appointment of the nominees.
Criticisms had trailed the nomination of Ms Onochie, who hails from Delta State, from opposition parties and civil society organisations who noted that her nomination was a breach of the Constitution since she is a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress.
The Constitution specifically declares that appointees to the electoral body must be non-partisan and also not a card-carrying member of any political party.
Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended states that “a member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity.”
Investigation revealed that Ms Onochie had campaigned for the president’s second term (#NextLevel Agenda) in 2018 and 2019.
Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe expressed concern that President Buhari could still retain his Personal Assistant on Social Media as National Commissioner to represent Delta state despite growing criticisms.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan however claimed that Ms Lauretta Onochie nomination was not against provisions of the Constitution since she was not being nominated for the position of Resident Electoral Commissioner.
Senator Lawan subsequently sent the list of the nominees to the Senate Committee on INEC led by Senator Kabiru Gaya with a directive to screen the nominees and report back within two weeks.
It revealed that the Senate Committee on INEC led by Senator Kabiru Gaya had in October 2019 rejected
Olalekan Raheem nomination as National Commissioner to represent Osun state following a petition before the Committee that he was a card-carrying member of the APC.
Olalekan had confessed to being a member of the APC during his screening exercise in November 2019. He also confessed to have contested for local government chairmanship in Osogbo, Osun State even though he said he stopped being a card-carrying member of the party in 2017.
Other nominees whose names were sent for screening and confirmation as INEC National Commissioners to represent their respective states and zones were Professor Muhammad Sani Kallah, (Katsina); Professor Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti); Saidu Babura Ahmad,( Jigawa); Professor Sani Muhammad Adam( North Central) and Dr Baba Bila, (North East).
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