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Amid fresh evidence, Senate urged to reject Onochie

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[FILES] President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan (left), and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege. Photo/facebook/NgrSenate/

Jega, Ubani kick, task Buhari on integrity

Stakeholders have renewed the call on the Senate to reject the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as representative of Delta State in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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Eight months after her recommendation by President Muhammadu Buhari, the nominee appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC last Thursday for screening in line with constitutional requirements.

In the course of her interaction with members of the panel, headed by a former Kano State Governor, Kabiru Gaya, Onochie, who is also Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, denied her membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), remarking that she quit partisan politics in 2019.

But fresh documentary evidence showing that the embattled presidential aide lied has emerged, indicating that she sustained her membership and participation in APC’s activities beyond 2019 to as recent as June 22.

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Some of the pieces of evidence include a copy of the first page of the membership register for Aniocha North Ward 4 of Delta State chapter of APC and a plaintiff’s witness statement on oath deposed to on June 30, 2021, at a Federal High Court in Abuja.

In the affidavit, which had her affixed photo, the presidential aide swore: “I, Lauretta Onochie, Nigerian citizen, of c/o 13 Nouakchott Street, Wuse Zone 1, Abuja, Nigeria, do make an oath and state as follows: That I am the plaintiff in this case by virtue of which I am conversant with the facts of this case.”

REACTING, INEC ex-chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who appeared in a national television programme, warned the Senate against confirming Onochie for the post.

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He urged President Buhari to save his administration the image problem Onochie’s nomination would cause INEC by withdrawing her appointment.

While reflecting on the hullabaloo the nomination has generated in the polity, the don declared: “This kind of controversy is really avoidable. The appointing authorities should be careful because you don’t want to appoint anybody that can raise suspicion or doubt or can lead to a loss of trust in the electoral management body.”

SIMILARLY, former chairman of Ikeja Branch of the National Bar Association (NBA), Monday Onyekachi Ubani, said the issue of perjury apart, “it is a well-known fact among Nigerians that Lauretta Onochie is a member of APC.”

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He contended that since the position for which she is being screened by the upper legislative chamber is constitutional, it behoves the National Assembly to reject her nomination on grounds of alleged partisanship.

The Senate is expected to receive the panel report at today’s plenary to guide the Red Chamber in its final decision on the matter.

The Guardian checks revealed that senators are divided on what should be the fate of the nominee, even as the majority of the ranking lawmakers expressed their desire for the Delta-born politician to be dropped, as that would save “this administration needless criticisms.”

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