PDP leaders storm NASS, reject Onochie as INEC commissioner
…Vows to retrieve seats of defected lawmakers
By Peter Usman://
National Working Committee, NWC of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, on Wednesday stormed the National Assembly to openly protest against the nomination of the Special Assistant on New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as one of the National Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
This was even as the party vowed to use litigation in retrieving the seats of all National Assembly members, who have defected from the party to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus led the party executives and supporters to the MOPOL Gate of the parliament at about 12:30pm to kick against Onochie’s nomination and criticized the defections of some senators elected on the platform of the party.
In a letter addressed to the chairman, Senate Committee on INEC and signed by its National Secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri, PDP said Onochie, being a card carrying member of APC, one of the political parties in the country, is not qualified for such appointment as stated in relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The protest, according to the party, is carried out to save the Senate, its President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and President Buhari from public ridicule.
The letter titled: “Rejection of the Nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC Commissioner” reads in part: “The National Working Committee, NWC of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP has learnt of the nomination of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie as a Commissioner in INEC by Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The nomination which was read on the floor of the Senate and forwarded to your committee for screening has created a lot of misgivings in the court of public opinion and judgment.
“Our Party considers it as important to bring to the attention of your committee the fact that our duty is to let you know that the National Assembly must endeavour to do things right and in accordance with the dictates of the laws of the country.
“The Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended clearly prohibits people like Mrs. Onochie, who is very partisan, in fact, a card carrying member of a political party to be appointed into INEC as an electoral umpire. Section 156(i)(a) and third schedule, Part 1, Item F, Paragraph 14(1) of the Constitution have outrightly disqualified her.
“We are, therefore, writing to ask the chairman to save the Senate President, the Senate itself and Mr. President from being ridiculed.
“We call on your committee to reject the nomination of Mrs. Onochie because she cannot be neutral or independent as she is factually known to be an unrepentant card carrying member of the APC with uncountable number of proofs”.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South) and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, received the party executives on behalf of their colleagues and promised to kick against the nomination.
On gale of defections hitting the party, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said machineries are being put in place to retrieve the seats of the defectors through litigations.
Ologbondiyan denied allegations of internal crisis or factionalisation levelled against the party by the defectors.
He said: “No state chapter of PDP is engrossed with any form of crisis. The party is one and united from the national down toward levels.”
At least four senators elected on the platform of the party, have within this week jumped ship to join the APC, alleging internal crisis, tyranny and leadership failure as their reasons.
The defectors are the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North); Lawali Hassan Anka (Zamfara West); Senator Muhammad Hassan Gusau (Zamfara Central) and Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North).