Buhari Replaces Lauretta Onochie, Appoints New INEC Commissioners

December 14, 2021
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Lauretta Onochie

Lauretta Onochie

President Muhammadu Buhari has removed Lauretta Onochie’s name from the list of Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) commissioners submitted to the Senate.

This comes as he submitted a new list to the senate for confirmation as INEC commissioners.

His decision was conveyed in a letter to the Senate.

The letter was read out by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

In the letter, the president appointed five other national electoral commissioners and a resident electoral commissioner. He sought Senate confirmation of the nominees.

The nominees are National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioner for INEC Mohammed Haruna (Niger State, North Central) – National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu (Delta State) – National Commissioner and Okeagu Nnamdi (Abia State, South East) – National Commissioner.

Others are Maj. Gen. A.B. Alkali (Adamawa State, North East) – National Commissioner, Rada Gumus (Bayelsa State, South South) – National Commissioner, and Sam Olumekun (Ondo State, South West) – National Commissioner.

Also appointed was Olaniyi Ijalaye (Ondo State, South West) as Resident Electoral Commissioner.

Ms Agbamuche-Mbu, whose first tenure expired in September, was in acting capacity when the president appointed Lauretta Onochie to take her place

Ms Onochie, currently a presidential aide, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October 2020 as an INEC commissioner to represent Delta State.

Ms Onochie’s controversial appointment had generated public outcry from individuals, civic groups and opposition parties who wrote petitions, staged protests and called on the Senate to reject it.

Many described the appointment as unconstitutional – majorly because she is partisan and had openly campaigned for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although she had told the Senate committee on INEC that she quit politics in 2019 and that she was no longer partisan – a claim which turned out to be false, she was, however, rejected by the Senate in July.

The basis for her rejection was, however, not her partisanship.

The Senate had said her appointment was rejected because “it breaches the federal character principle.”

“In the case of Ms Onochie’s…the Committee, bound by the provisions of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution on Federal Character Principle… the Senate may wish to recall that in 2016, the Senate based on the recommendation of its INEC Committee confirmed Barr. May Agbamuche-Mbu from Delta State as a National Commissioner in INEC, who is still serving.

 

“…Confirming the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie from the same Delta State will be a violation of the Federal Character Principle. Therefore, based on the provisions of Section 14(3) of the Constitution…and in order for the Committee and the Senate to achieve fairness to other states and political zones in the county, the Committee is unable to recommend Ms Lauretta Onochie for confirmation as a National Electoral Commissioner for INEC but would rather recommend to the Senate to request that the President makes another nomination,” the report read.

The Senate panel had said several petitions were written against her on grounds of violation of federal character principle, partisanship, being a card-carrying member of the APC and using her social media accounts fake news campaign strategies.

But none of the reasons was good enough for Ms Onochie to be rejected but for the federal character principle.

The hope of Ms Onochie being appointed at the end of Ms Agbamuche-Mbu’s tenure has now been terminated following the latter’s re-appointment.

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