The Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Kabiru Gaya, has said the red chamber of the National Assembly “studied the mood of Nigerians” before making its final report on the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC commissioner.
Gaya said this while addressing journalists in Abuja after Tuesday’s plenary.
He also explained that the presidential aide was not rejected based on political affiliation.
“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,” he said.
Gaya said the committee considered various legal implications of the confirmation or otherwise of the nominees before coming up with its report.
The senator said his panel did not rely on the submissions of Onochie when she told the committee that Agbamuche-Mbu was actually 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,” Gaya said.
On her 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 that the Committee received several petitions against the nominations of Onochie and Prof. Sani Adam.
The upper chamber stepped down the confirmation of Adam for further investigation by the committee.
The Senate, however, confirmed the appointment of five nominees as INEC National Commissioners.