Lauretta Onochie: Senate’s Rejection Is Victory For Nigerians, Says PDP

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hailed the Senate over the rejection of Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), describing it as a victory for Nigerians and democracy.

President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Onochie as INEC National Commissioner representing Delta State in October 2020.

On July 8, the Senate Committee on INEC commenced the screening of the presidential aide on Social Media and four other nominees appointed by the President. They are Kunle Cornelius, Saidu Ahmad, Sani Adam and Baba Bila.

Five days after, the upper chamber rejected Onochie’s nomination following the massive outcry that trailed her nomination, especially from members of the opposition and civil society organisations who claim she is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Reacting, the PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the “rejection of Lauretta Onochie by Nigerians has saved the nation from very serious crisis as well as salvaged INEC and the entire Nigerian electoral process from a ruinous pollution that would have led to the collapse of our democratic order.”

He noted that “Onochie’s vexatious nomination, in total affront to paragraph 14 of the 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), was a very dangerous machination by the Buhari-led APC Presidency against our electoral process, in the attempt to subvert the will of the people in the 2023 elections.”

READ ALSO: Security Operatives Rescue One Bethel Baptist School Student, Two Others

The opposition party accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to rig the 2023 general elections, noting that the ruling party “is aware that it will have difficulties winning election at any level in a free, fair and credible election.”

Ologbondiyan also commended Nigerians including civil society organizations, the media as well as other political parties, for joining forces with the PDP in fighting for the sanctity of our electoral process by resisting Onochie’s nomination.

He explained that the stiff resistance displayed by Nigerians across board “underscores their collective and unwavering determination to resist and kick out the APC in 2023, despite its shenanigans.”

While urging Nigerians not to rest on their oars, the PDP wants the masses to continue the fight for the nation’s democracy, particularly in further resisting the attempt to alter the Electoral Act to prohibit direct electronic transmission of elections results from polling units.

“It is clear that the APC is pushing for the prohibition of electronic transmission of results because it seeks to use its usual malpractices alteration of figures, switching of results as well as disappearance of ballot materials while on transit to collation centers to, again, subvert the will of the people and manipulate its hold on power in 2023.

“Our party, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Nigerian people, will use every means available and permissible under our laws to ensure that such provision that seeks to institutionalize and endorse rigging is not allowed to pass.

“The PDP, therefore, counsels the APC to read the handwriting on the wall and know that Nigerians are ready and waiting to resist them at any turn ahead of the 2023 election,” the party’s spokesman added.

Why We Rejected Lauretta Onochie As INEC Commissioner – Senators

A photo combination of Lauretta Onochie and a file image of Senators in the red chamber.
A photo combination of Lauretta Onochie and a file image of Senators in the red chamber.

 

The Senate on Tuesday explained why it rejected Lauretta Onochie as an INEC Commissioner for Delta State.

President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Ms Onochie in October 2020 but many Nigerians criticised the move.

According to critics, Ms Onochie was a member of the All Progressives Congress and an aide to President Buhari.

In its decision to reject Onochie’s nomination, the Senators said it had received several petitions against Onochie.

Also, nominating her would contravene the Federal Character Principle, the Senators said, according to a statement signed by Ezrel Tabiowo, a spokesperson to the Senate President.

Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed five other nominees as INEC Commissioners.

Those confirmed include Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru (North-West), Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina), Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti), Dr. Baba Bila (North-East), and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa).

Senate Rejects Onochie As INEC Commissioner

 

The Senate has rejected the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner.

Presenting a report on the screening of the nominees during Tuesday’s plenary session, the chairman of the committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said Onochie’s nomination was rejected because there is a serving INEC commissioner representing Delta state.

The rejection also followed the massive outcry that has trailed her nomination, especially from members of the opposition and civil society organisations who claim she is a card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Former INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, is among those who had kicked against the nomination.

“This kind of controversy is really avoidable. Any person who generated such a controversy, the appointing authorities should be careful because you don’t want to appoint anybody that can raise suspicions or doubts or can lead to a loss of trust of the electoral management body,” he said on Monday on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had written to the Senate in October 2020, to confirm the appointment of Onochie who is currently his media aide on Social Media, and three others as Commissioners of INEC.

Read Also: ‘Avoid Controversy,’ Jega Advises Buhari To Withdraw Onochie’s Nomination

In her introductory remarks during her screening last Thursday, Onochie, however, insisted she is not partisan.

While noting that she had seen the petitions against her which were not only from the opposition but also from people in the APC, she said it was because she is known to be non-partisan and someone who insists on due process.

Onochie, however, insisted that since President Buhari won his second term, she has removed herself from all things political.

According to her, from 2019 till date she has not had anything to do with any political organisation and did not partake in APC’s recent validation exercise.

Meanwhile, the Senate also set aside the confirmation of Professor Sani Adam as INEC Commissioner from North-Central.

Professor Sani Adams was dropped because of petitions written against him.

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[VIDEO] I Am Not A Member Of Any Political Party, Onochie Tells Senate

Lauretta Onochie: Wike Alleges Plot By APC To Rig 2023 Elections

File Photo of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has rejected the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to rig the 2023 general elections.

He stated this on Monday in Port Harcourt as part of the events to mark his sixth year in office, describing her nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as a negative sign to the nation’s democracy.

“Despite the floods of protest against her nomination and the general lack of trust in her capacity to remain impartial, it seems the APC-led Senate is determined to confirm her appointment as part of their grand design to rig the 2023 general elections well ahead of time knowing that Nigerians will overwhelmingly reject them in a free, fair and transparent contest,” he said.

While describing Onochie as a die-hard APC member, Wike said President Buhari’s nominee lacks the general trust to be politically neutral and conduct credible polls.

The governor explained that the most fundamental consideration against her appointment in a democratic setting is the likelihood of bias, which according to him, is heavily weighted against Onochie.

READ ALSO: ‘Avoid Controversy,’ Jega Advises Buhari To Withdraw Onochie’s Nomination

He, therefore, appealed to President Buhari to withdraw her nomination for the sake of legacy since he would relinquish power in 2023.

“As a governor and concerned Nigerian who wants this country so much and wants our democracy to survive, I wish to appeal to Mr President for the sake of legacy withdraw Miss Onochie’s nomination to avoid creating more credibility problems for INEC and restore confidence in our electoral system,” Wike added.

Should President Buhari fail to withdraw Onochie’s nomination as INEC National Commissioner representing Delta State, Governor Wike asked the National Assembly to wake up and defend the nation’s democracy.

In doing so, the Rivers leader wants the legislature “to wake up on the right side of history by reverting her nomination.”

Wike recalled that President Buhari attributed his victory during the 2015 and 2019 general elections to the novel card reader system introduced by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He wondered why the President has been “overtly reluctant on the need to minimise the best of a new, transparent, trustworthy electoral system for the country.”

Wike’s remarks come four days after the Senate Committee on the INEC commenced the screening of Lauretta Onochie for the position of national commissioner for INEC.

Ms Onochie, a Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in October last year.

The committee is also screening four other nominees appointed by the president. They are Kunle Cornelius, Saidu Ahmad, Sani Adam and Baba Bila.

‘Avoid Controversy,’ Jega Advises Buhari To Withdraw Onochie’s Nomination

Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie.

 

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has advised against the appointment of Lauretta Onochie as a commissioner of the electoral body.

Jega during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today reacting to the appointment of the presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie as INEC National Commissioner, Jega said the controversy trailing her nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari should have been avoided.

He called on the lawmakers to apply the laws regarding the issue, in order to avoid a situation whereby elections she participates in may be viewed as being bias.

READ ALSO: PDP Leaders Storm NASS To Protest Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

“This kind of controversy is really avoidable. Any person who generated such a controversy, the appointing authorities should be careful because you don’t want to appoint anybody that can raise suspicions or doubts or can lead to a loss of trust of the electoral management body.

“I’m sorry to say that from some of the documents that I have been privileged to see, both about her British citizenship and the very active participation in a political party up until 2019, you will try to avoid appointing such people into an electoral commission — because it can generate controversy.

“To be honest, the president can also withdraw that nomination. After all, there are so many women with credibility, with capacity, competence in both Delta and across Rivers, so why bring someone that can generate controversy and raise suspicions about the intention of the appointment,” Jega said.

The nomination of Lauretta Onochie who currently serves as Senior Special Assistant on New Media to President Buhari had elicited public criticism from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and civil society organizations who are against her nomination on the grounds that she is an alleged card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and is not proper to be appointed as an election officer.

However, during her screening for the position before the Senate, Onochie said she is not partisan. She admitted that she had seen the petitions against her which are not only from the opposition but also from people in the APC. She said the opposition to her candidacy is because she is known to be non-partisan and someone who insists on due process and the right thing to be done.

Senate Screens Onochie, Others For Position Of INEC Commissioners

Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie during her screening before the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, July 8, 2021.

 

The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday screened Lauretta Onochie and other nominees for appointment as National Commissioners of the electoral body.

One of President Buhari’s aides, Lauretta Onochie is among the nominees.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Buhari’s $6.1bn Foreign Loan Request

The nomination of Lauretta Onochie who currently serves as Senior Special Assistant on New Media to President Buhari has elicited public criticism from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and civil society organizations who are against her nomination on the grounds that she is an alleged card-carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and is not proper to be appointed as an election officer.

In her introductory remarks, Onochie said she is not partisan. She admitted that she had seen the petitions against her which are not only from the opposition but also from people in the APC. She said the opposition to her candidacy is because she is known to be non-partisan and someone who insists on due process and the right thing to be done.

However, Committee members questioned her stance on non-partisanship.

Senator Istifanus Gyang queried that one of the petitions against her has an affidavit affirming her membership of the APC.

Senators participating in the screening exercise.

 

Senator Ike Ekweremadu in his contribution said he is worried that her nomination is flouting the principle of Federal character.

He explained that there is a nominee already from Delta State whose tenure will soon expire and Lauretta is being nominated for the second slot for the South-South which should go round the southern states, however, the nomination means that for a second time the position is going again to Delta State to the exclusion of the other Niger Delta states.

Ekweremadu advised her to withdraw her nomination to preserve the integrity of President Buhari.

However, Senator Lawal Gumau said there is nothing wrong with her nomination and maintained that all the petitions against her are sentiments.

In her response, Onochie explained that the INEC National Commissioner who Senator Ekweremadu made reference is May Agbamuche Mgbu.

Lauretta Onochie at the screening exercise.

 

According to Onochie, Mgbu was nominated under her husband’s state – Cross River and not Delta State. She explained that since President Buhari won his second term, she has removed herself from all things political.

She maintained that from 2019 till date she has not had anything to do with any political organisation and did not partake in APC’s validation exercise.

PDP Leaders Storm NASS To Protest Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe and National Leader of the PDP Uche Secondus during the protest at NASS gate.

 

Leaders of the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday stormed the National Assembly in protest.

The leaders are demanding the immediate reversal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Lauretta Onochie as National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Lauretta Onochie is currently the media aide to President Buhari on Social Media.

Led by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, the PDP described the appointment as a travesty on democracy.

READ ALSO: Senate President Confirms Defection Of Three PDP Senators To APC

Secondus said Onochie being a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot be appointed into a position that requires a high level of neutrality.

He urged the National Assembly leadership to impress on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw her nomination.

The party also raised concern over the recent defection of some members of the PDP to APC and blamed it on the approach used by APC in luring the defectors.

The party further accused the current administration of impoverishing Nigeria and subjecting the citizens to untold hardship.

Some PDP lawmakers including the Senate Minority leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe were among those who joined in the protest.

President Buhari earlier in October wrote to the Senate to confirm the appointment of one of his media aides, Lauretta Onochie, and three others as Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Others are Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).

The leaders also submitted a letter stating fully their demands and rejection of the nomination of Onochie. The statement was signed by the National Secretary of the party, Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.

 

See the letter below…

The Chairman,
Senate Committee on INEC,
National Assembly Complex,
Three Arms Zone,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

REJECTION OF THE NOMINATION OF LAURETTA ONOCHIE
AS INEC COMMISSIONER

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has learnt of the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as a Commissioner in INEC by Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The nomination which was read on the floor of the Senate and forwarded to your committee for screening has created a lot of misgivings in the court of public opinion and judgement.

Our Party considers it as important to bring to the attention of your committee the fact that our duty is to let you know that the National Assembly must endeavour to do things right and in accordance with the dictates of the laws of the country.

The Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended clearly prohibits people like Mrs. Onochie, who is very partisan, in fact, a card-carrying member of a political party to be appointed into INEC as an electoral umpire. Section 156(i)(a) and third schedule, Part 1, Item F, Paragraph 14(1) of the Constitution have outrightly disqualified her.

We are, therefore, writing to ask the Chairman to save the Senate President, the Senate itself and Mr. President from being ridiculed.

We call on your committee to reject the nomination of Onochie because she cannot be neutral or independent as she is factually known to be an unrepentant card-carrying member of the APC with an uncountable number of proofs.

Her confirmation will be a wholesome abuse of democratic tenets and dragging the reputation of the President and the Senate in the political mud.

Please, don’t make an avoidable legislative and political mistake for the country.

Kindly, accept the assurances of our highest consideration and esteem regard.

Sen. Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri, CON
National Secretary

Senate Directs Committee To Screen Lauretta Onochie, Five Others As INEC Commissioners

File Photo of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie

 

The Senate has directed its Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to screen and confirm the appointment of one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aides Lauretta Onochie, and five others as INEC commissioners.

The directive comes after President Buhari on October 13, 2020, wrote to the Senate to confirm Ms. Onochie who is currently his Special Assistant on Social Media.

There had been opposition and criticisms of her nomination especially from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

READ ALSO: Buhari Appoints Lauretta Onochie, Three Others As INEC Commissioners

The PDP had rejected her nomination alleging that she is a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Upon confirmation, she will be appointed as the National Commissioner of INEC representing Delta State.

Others on the list are Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).

Lekki Protest: Buhari’s Aide Commends Nigeria Police For ‘Professional’ Conduct

File Photo of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie

 

An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, has commended the Nigeria Police Force over what she described as the professional conduct of its operatives on Saturday.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Onochie said nobody was hurt during the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest in Lagos yesterday.

“Kudos to the @PoliceNG for the professional manner it operated at Lekki yesterday. Nobody was hurt,” she tweeted.

“Best of all, no police officer was killed nor roasted and eaten. We must applaud you for doing well so that you can take our criticisms of your shortcomings in good faith. Thank you.”

 

The protest was in reaction to the decision of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution to return control of the Lekki Toll Gate plaza to its owners, the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

READ ALSO: Popular Comedian, Mr Macaroni, Arrested At Lekki Toll Gate Protest

The toll gate had been one of the major converging points for the protesters in Lagos last year and was also the location for the infamous #LekkiShootings, masterminded by security operatives particularly men of the Nigerian Army.

However, the Lagos State Police Command arrested a popular comedian, activist, Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr Macaroni and other protesters who had converged in Lekki against the government’s directives not to hold any demonstration.

The comedian kicked against the clampdown, wondering if Nigeria is practising the military regime.

“Na military regime?” Mr. Macaroni said after his arrest, on an Instagram Live while in a police van. “If na military, make we know sey na military, so make everybody dey hide.”

His phone and that of other protesters were later seized by the police, ending his Instagram Live session.

Later on Saturday, a video clip surfaced on social media, of Mr. Macaroni half-naked and sweating in a bus choked with other arrested protesters.

Tambuwal Asks Buhari To Withdraw Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

File Photo of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie

 

Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the nomination of his aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Speaking during the swearing-in of members of the State Independent Electoral Commission at the Government House on Wednesday, Tambuwal said the withdrawal is in the best interest of the country’s electoral system.

For the governor, the choice of Onochie is not right for the country’s democracy as the nominee is a well-known partisan individual.

He also asked the Senate to reject her nomination if President Buhari fails to withdraw her nomination

Governor Tambuwal also commended the Federal Government for heeding to public outcry by disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

He appealed to the Federal Government to recruit more security personnel to tackle the numerous security challenges.

The governor’s remarks come a day after Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, among others faulted Onochie’s nomination as INEC National Commissioner representing Delta State.

In a statement signed on Tuesday, hours after the President announced the appointment, Mr Falana listed some criteria provided in the Constitution to determine who is fit for the position.

One of the criteria included the fact that members must not be partisan – a rule which he says Mrs Lauretta is not compliant with.

He described her as an “unrepentant member” of the ruling party and one who has “consistently attacked members of other political parties.

“To that extent, she is partisan and therefore, not qualified to be a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission,” Falana said.

Situation Room Asks Buhari To Withdraw Onochie’s Nomination As INEC Commissioner

File Photo of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie

 

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the nomination of his aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Convener of Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, said Onochie’s nomination is an attempt to weaken the efforts to build a credible electoral process in Nigeria.

“Situation Room calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately withdraw her nomination,” the statement partly read.

“Her nomination amounts to a major attempt at undermining efforts to build credibility for an improved electoral process in the country.”

While citing the 1999 constitution, Nwankwo said paragraph 14 forbids a “partisan politician” as a member of the electoral body.

He argued that the presidential aide is a “known partisan supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

Nwankwo asked the Senate to disregard her nomination if President Buhari fails to withdraw it.

His reaction followed President Buhari’s request for the National Assembly to confirm Onochie as INEC National Commissioner representing Delta State.

The President is also seeking confirmation of the appointment of three other; Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).

Buhari Appoints Lauretta Onochie, Three Others As INEC Commissioners

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the occasion of the country's 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.
President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate to confirm the appointment of one of his media aides, Lauretta Onochie, and three others as Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The letter was read by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

Lauretta Onochie is currently the media aide to President Buhari on Social Media.

The President seeks confirmation of her appointment as a National Commissioner of INEC representing Delta State.

Others are Professor Mohammed Sani (Katsina); Professor Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa).

See the tweet below…