President Muhammadu Buhari has finally replaced Lauretta Onochie as national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, months after the Senate rejected her nomination in July.
Mr Buhari, in a letter to the Senate on Tuesday, urged the upper legislative chamber to screen and confirm the nomination of six national commissioners and one resident electoral commissioner for INEC.
The president in the letter replaced Ms Onochie with May Agbamuche Mbu.
Other nominees newly sent to the floor of the Senate for confirmation as national commissioners include Mohammed Haruna (Niger, North-Central); Okeagu Kenneth Nnamdi (Abia, South-East); A.B. Alkali (Adamawa, North-East); Rada H. Gumus (Bayelsa, South-South), and Sam Olumeku (Ondo, South-West).
Olaniyi Olaleye Ijalaye from Ondo (South-West) was named a resident electoral commissioner.
The nomination of Ms Onochie, who currently serves as an aide in Mr Buhari’s regime, had drawn the ire of many Nigerians and the opposition, insisting that her appointment would negatively affect the outcome of future elections.
Former INEC chairman Attahiru Jega had advised Mr Buhari to find another woman to replace Ms Onochie because she lacks credibility.
According to him, the law is clear on the nomination of electoral commissioners and Ms Onochie’s British citizenship, and her involvement with the APC until 2019 makes her credibility questionable.
Also, Governor Nyesom Wike accused Mr Buhari of appointing Ms Onochie to rig the 2023 elections.
He claimed that Mr Buhari and his APC cohorts’ refusal to withdraw Ms Onochie’s nomination was ominous.
At that time, the Senate had, while confirming the nomination of INEC national commissioners for Katsina, Ekiti, Jigawa, North-East, and North-West, in July rejected the nomination of Ms Onochie.
The Senate explained that it rejected Ms Onochie’s nomination for violating the Federal Character principle.
Committee chairman Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano), while presenting the report of the screening of the nominees, told the Senate that it was against the Federal Character principle to have two persons from the same state as national commissioners.