By Henry Okonkwo
Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, Kabiru Gaya, says the upper chamber of the National Assembly “studied the mood of Nigerians” before making its final report on the candidature of the presidential nominee, Ms Lauretta Onochie, as INEC commissioner.
Gaya also explained that the presidential aide was not rejected based on political affiliation.
The senator representing Kano South said this while addressing journalists in Abuja after Tuesday’s plenary.
He said, “We couldn’t approve the appointment of Onochie because she is from the same state as an INEC commissioner from Delta State, Mrs Agbamuche-Mbu, whose tenure may expire by December this year.
“Agbamuche-Mbu is still serving in INEC till December this year. That’s why we cannot clear another candidate from the state.”
Gaya said the committee considered various legal implications of the confirmation and also studied the mood of Nigerians before coming up with its report.
He added that his panel did not rely on the submissions of Onochie when she told the committee that Agbamuche-Mbu was representing Cross River State on the board of INEC.
“President Buhari actually specified her (Agbamuche-Mbu) state, which is Delta, in the letter.
“Also, during her confirmation by the 8th Senate, I was there when two senators from Delta, Messrs Ovie Omo-Agege and James Manager, stood up to congratulate the Senate for confirming her.
“We also got records from the past senate screening that Agbamuche-Mbu was a nominee from Delta State.”
On Onochie’s membership of the APC, Gaya said the committee could not disqualify Onochie based on the records before it.
He said, “Madam Onochie has said she has ceased to be a member of the APC.
“The law said we can only disqualify a card-carrying member of a political party and since she denied her APC membership, we cannot hold that against her.”
Gaya had said in his report at plenary said the committee received several petitions against the nominations of Onochie and Adam.
The upper chamber stepped down the confirmation of Prof. Sani Adam (North Central) for further investigation by the committee.
The confirmation of the nominees followed the consideration of a report by the Gaya-led Senate Committee on INEC.