President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Lauretta Onochie may have been behind the suspension of screening and confirmation of the nominees for Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a letter of request to the National Assembly which was read during plenary on Tuesday by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, President Buhari also nominated Prof. Mohammed Sani representing Katsina; Prof. Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti) and Seidu Ahmed (Jigawa) to fill the quota of INEC Commissioners in their state.
The President noted in his letter to the Nigerian Senate that the nomination was pursuant to Paragraph 14 of part 1F of the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
But a large section of Nigerians and the Senate Minority caucus had last week kicked against Onochie’s nomination, stating that Buhari’s action was a violation of the Nigerian constitution.
It was gathered that Senate President Ahmad Lawan did not send Buhari’s official communication to the Committee on INEC saddled with the responsibility of screening the nominees before the Senate went on a three- week break on Tuesday.
According to The Punch, Lawan decided not to forward the list of nominees following stiff opposition by a majority of senators opposed to Onochie’s nomination across party lines.
Speaking on the issue, a Senator, who doesn’t want his name mentioned, said “The Senate President would have referred the nominees’ list to the INEC committee but had to halt the process when it was obvious that majority of us advised him to maintain status quo pending when Onochie’s replacement will be sent to the Senate.”
Another Senator who also spoke on condition of anonymity said “Onochie’s representative in the Senate, who is also a principal officer, expressed shock when the Senate President read the letter announcing her as one of the nominees.
“The Principal officer has mobilised his colleagues in the leadership to oppose Onochie’s nomination and the Senate President had no choice than to put the entire screening process on hold.”
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