An All Progressive Congress, APC senator who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons has declared opposition to presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, becoming national commissioner for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reports emerging following the commencement of screening of nominees for the coveted position have revealed that some APC members in the senate panel are currently trying to influence the confirmation of Onochie by putting it in the committee report which would be laid next week, Naija News understands.
However, a member of the panel who spoke with The PUNCH on the ongoing said the basis for writing petitions against Onochie had been defeated.
He said, ‘The various petitions that we received on Onochie centred on her membership of the APC and the fact that her confirmation would make Delta State produce the two slots meant for the South-South region on the board of INEC.
“However, Onochie has told the panel that she is not a member of the APC. She has also said the Delta State-born woman on the INEC board is actually representing Cross River.
“If the argument is that she is a political appointee, even the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, was a Federal Government appointee because he served as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund during former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Speaking about his position on the presidential aide confirmation, the lawmaker said: “Personally, despite being an APC card-carrying member and senator, I don’t want Lauretta Onochie to be confirmed but we really don’t have anything to hold her back because she has cleared herself.”
Asked if the affidavit she swore to at the court could not be used against her, the Senator argued that events had overtaken it.
He said, “You can only argue based on moral grounds but the facts before us did not really empower us to disqualify her.
“The law said nominees for INEC appointment should not be a card-carrying member of any party and she said she had stopped being a member of the APC since 2019.”
Another senator, who equally spoke on condition of anonymity, said the committee was already in possession of a letter from the APC Secretariat, declaring that Onochie had ceased to be a member of the party.
He said, “I don’t know how else they want the woman to defend herself. She has said that she is not a member of the party and we have a letter written from the APC National Secretariat that she is not their member.
“As far as the committee is concerned, the petitions before us seeking Onochie’s disqualification has been addressed,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Senator Lawal Gumau has admonished other members of the committee to be careful of decision that the Senate might regret later.
He said, “Nigerians were quick to condemn the former Minister of Finance (Kemi Adeosun) but we are all surprised when the court vindicated her recently.
“I don’t want us to do anything that we will regret in case we discovered later that she is not a card-carrying member of the APC.”
In opposition to acceptance of Onochie, a PDP Senator, who is a member of the committee, insisted that Onochie must be disqualified because she should not be appointed.
The PUNCH quoted the lawmaker who also spoke on condition of anonymity as saying that “the section of the constitution which disqualified her from the appointment states that she should never have been a member of any political party.’
When contacted on Friday, the Chairman of the INEC Committee, declined comments on the issue.
Gaya said, “I will not make any comments on the issue now. Our committee is still working on the report.”