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Despite outrage, Senate begins screening Onochie for INEC job

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A Nigerian senate committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has commenced the screening of Lauretta Onochie as commissioner of the electoral body.

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Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Onochie, his current aide on social media as an INEC commissioner in October 2020.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan directed the senate committee on INEC to screen Onochie — eight months after Buhari sent her name for confirmation.

Onochie will be screened alongside Muhammad Kallah, Kunle Ajayi, Saidu Ahmad, Sani Adam and Baba Bila — all of whom were nominated by the president.

The presidential aide’s nomination has since been opposed by many Nigerians and members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who accused Buhari of weakening democratic structures by nominating Onochie, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

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They argued that the act that established INEC stated clearly that an individual is partisan or a member of a political party should not be an umpire in the country’s electoral body.

Some Nigerian civil society organisations have filed a suit at a federal high court in Abuja to challenge Onochie’s eligibility.

The CSOs are asking the court to determine whether the president “can nominate a card-carrying member or members of his political party or any other political party in Nigeria, as a national commissioner or resident electoral commissioner for the independent national electoral commission”, contrary to sections 14 (2a), 14 (3), 14 (3b), 14 (4) and Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended in 2011).

While Onochie’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, Senate spokesman Ajibola Basiru asked Nigerians to petition the upper legislative chamber if they think she is not qualified for the position.


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