THE Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday, asked the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, to screen for confirmation, the appointments of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, and five others as INEC Commissioners.
The development came eight months after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), sent the list of the nominees to the Senate for screening.
It was learnt that protests by opposition Peoples Democratic Party lawmakers halted the screening process. PDP lawmakers were said to have accused Onochie, who is a Presidential Spokesperson, of unnecessarily casting aspersions on their party.
They also faulted the idea of making Onochie, a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress, as an INEC Commissioner to represent Delta State on the board of the commission.
Other nominees are: Prof. Muhammad Kallah (Katsina); Prof. Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti); Saidu Ahmad (Jigawa); Prof Sani Adam (North- Central); Dr. Baba Bila (North-East)
The Senate INEC panel, which has Senator Kabiru Gaya as Chairman, was given four weeks to conclude the exercise and report back to the Senate.
A mild drama occurred when the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, rose to second the motion for the screening of the nominees.
Abaribe said, “I am surprised that the name of Lauretta Onochie was still included on the list despite the fact that we have resolved her issue a long time ago.
“I am seconding the motion for the screening of the nominees, reluctantly and we shall meet in the Philippines.”
However, the Spokesperson for the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, urged Nigerians who were uncomfortable with Onochie’s appointment to send a petition to the Senate committee on INEC.
Basiru further said, “Until the committee comes up with its recommendation, there is nothing I can say.
“The fact that a matter is referred to a committee does not mean that the committee will affirm to such confirmation.
“In the past, there have been instances where references have been made to committees, and they were returned unconfirmed or stepped down by the committee.
“I would rather say that we keep the gunpowder till the committee comes up with a recommendation.
“As Nigerians, if you feel she is not qualified, you are entitled to file a petition before the committee.”
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