By Kparobo Ehvwubare
The claim by President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide, Lauretta Onochie, denying being a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been punctured by an affidavit sworn to recently.
During Onochie’s screening by the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, Onochie said she ceased being a member of the party in 2019. But the affidavit she swore to on June 30, 2021, confirmed otherwise.
While responding to questions from members of the committee, Onochie said a plethora of petitions against her nomination and insinuations she was a card carrying member of the APC were false as she stopped being a member since 2019 when she was made a Special Assistant on Social Media to Buhari.
She also admitted being part of Buhari’s campaign organisation in 2015 prior to her appointment.
“I have learned, over the years, to stand with the constitution and due process but not on partisanship or sentiments.
“Since 2019, I have not had anything to do with any political organisation, including Buhari support groups.
“When APC was doing re-validation of party members, I did not take part in that exercise.
“As I’m sitting down here, I’m not a member of any political party in this country.
“I have no partisanship in my blood. I have seen many petitions against my nomination not only from the PDP, but also from some APC members.
“I’m not partisan; they know. It is about the law. No one has any reason to fear for my nomination as INEC commissioner representing Delta.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m Madam Due Process. That’s why all the attacks. I follow due process; I follow the law,” Onochie said.
However, her bubble was punctured when the affidavit attached to one of the petitions against her, was presented to her to contradict her claims.
She had deposed to the affidavit at the FCT Court in a case involving her and one Emeka Ugwuonye.
In the affidavit, the presidential aide had averred on oath that she was still actively engaged in politics as a member of the ruling party.
Part of the affidavit read:
“That I am also engaged in active politics and a member of Neighbourhood Watch and has also contested the local government elections under the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom.
“I am also a member of the All Progressives Congress and a volunteer at the Buhari Support Organisation.”
Even with the presentation of the document indicting her, Onochie still denied being an APC member when four Senators, Ifeanyi Ubah, Seriake Dickson, Istifanus Gyang and Ike Ekweremadu, asked her position.
A suggestion by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) that Onochie be placed on oath after she had denied her APC membership, was supported by Senator Lawal Gumau (Bauchi South), but they were countered by Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Seriake Dickson, who each argued that the Senate rules did not allow them to put any nominee on oath during screening.
Chairman of the panel, Kabiru Gaya, ruled in favour of Ekweremadu and Dickson, saying that Onochie would not be placed on oath so as not to run afoul of the Senate rules.
The proceedings were subsequently adjourned by Chairman of the panel, Senator Kabiru Gaya who assured that the panel would submit its finding to the Senate at plenary next week for consideration.