The Senate has rejected Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, a move the main opposition party has called a victory for democracy and Nigerians.
Onochie was rejected following the consideration of the report of the Committee on INEC, chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya, (APC, Kano).
The Senate also stood down the approval of Professor Sani Mohammed Adam till further legislative action.
The panel recommended Onochie’s disqualification on the grounds that her nomination is in violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution on the Principle of Federal Character.
Gaya said in line with the principle of federal character, Onochie could not make the list of confirmed nominees because she comes from Delta State which has already produced a sitting National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu.
“Her nomination violated the federal character principle and national unity. Other sections of the country has also presented petitions against her nomination.”
“In 2016, we confirmed a national commissioner from Delta State, Mrs May Mbu and confirming Lauretta from the same Delta State will violate the federal character,” Gaya said.
Following the committee’s recommendations, the Senate stepped down the confirmation of Prof Adam from North Central on the grounds that it has not cleared the nominee of petitions surrounding his nomination.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan therefore mandated the committee to do further legislative action and report back in two weeks.
Onochie’s nomination had sparked a massive outrage from civil society groups, opposition lawmakers, and even some members of the ruling party.
Many had argued that she was “too partisan” to be a commissioner in an important institution like INEC.
When she appeared before the senate panel last week, the presidential aide was asked to respond to allegations that she was a card-carrying member of the ruling party but she had denied it.
Onochie had claimed that she stopped being a member of any political party since 2019 but reports showed that she lied.
President Muhammadu Buhari had refused to bow to the pressure of withdrawing her nomination.
Onochie was screened by the senate nine months after her nomination.
She was nominated alongside five others.