Court documents reveal how Lauretta Onochie swore under oath that she was a member of the APC.

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Lauretta Onochie

Documents obtained from the courts reveal that in 2016, an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan declared under oath in court that she is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nigeria.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Onochie to be a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), many Nigerians, including civil society organizations, are calling for the National Assembly to reject her nomination. Onochie is a personal assistant to the president on social media.

According to documents she filed in a libel suit before a High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Onochie confirmed that she was actively involved in political activities in the country. Also, she stated that she is a “volunteer at the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO),” a political think-tank that assisted in the coordination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s election campaigns in the 2015 and 2019 elections, respectively.

Onochie sought N1 billion in damages from a man named Emeka Ugwuonye in a lawsuit filed under the number CV/852/16.

In a Facebook post published on January 21, 2016, she accused the defendant of defaming her by referring to her as a trafficker of young girls for international prostitution.

“I am also involved in active politics and a member of the Neighbourhood Watch, and I have also run for local government elections on behalf of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom,” she added, claiming that the words used in the aforementioned Facebook post, which she reproduced in the lawsuit, have brought her reputation into public ridicule and have harmed it.

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As a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a volunteer with the Buhari Support Group, Onochie also shared his political views.

Further, the presidential aide claimed that she is an educator who has worked as the headmistress of Aunt Margaret International School in Calabar and the principal of Holy Child Secondary School in Calabar. Moreover, she stated that she had previously worked at Epping Forest College in Essex, United Kingdom.
It has been reported that on March 8th, 2017, the lawsuit was amended and re-filed.

She agreed to all of her claims when she was called to the stand by the court in 2020.

In October 2020, Onochie was nominated to be one of five national commissioners for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on INEC to begin the process that would lead to Onochie’s confirmation earlier this month, despite strong opposition from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and civil society organizations (CSOs) over her involvement in partisan political activities.

What the United States Constitution says

As stipulated in Section 154 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, when it came to appointing the national commissioners of INEC, the president was required to consult with the National Council of State.

Read also: Insecurity: Buhari to address National Assembly Thursday

A further provision of the Third Schedule is found in Paragraph B of Part 1 of the Third Schedule which states that “the Council of State shall have the authority to advise the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to (iv)the Independent National Electoral Commission, including the appointment of members to the commission.”

The constitution also stated that, in accordance with the provisions of Section 154 (1), the appointment of members of the Independent National Electoral Commission must be approved by the Senate before it can take effect.

According to Section 30 of Act No. 1 of 2010, a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “shall be non-partisan,” as stated in paragraph 14 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule.

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