By Uche Amunike
Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Loretta Onochie has denied being a member of any political party, especially the All Progressives Congress, APC, which she claims she already resigned from, thereby leaving active politics.
She made this assertion on Thursday during her screening by the Senator Kabir Gaya led Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in consideration of her appointment as Commissioner of INEC.
The screening ended up been eventful as the panel considers that she might become partisan as INEC Commissioner, noting that it was a job that entailed being independent and neutral.
The panel raised concerns about the various petitions by civil society organizations, individuals and political parties against her, wondering how she would exonerate herself from being partisan, saying that all indications pointed towards the fact that she was actively involved in partisan politics.
In her response, Onochie, who was the last to be screened among the six nominees acknowledged that there were many petitions against her but stated that she garnered the experience of being non-partisan and liberal from her former place of work in the United Kingdom.
She posited that she joined the APC on invitation in 2014 to work for President Muhammadu Buhari all the way from the UK. According to her since his second election in 2019 which brought Buhari into office she tendered her resignation as a member of the ruling APC and left active politics.
She said: ‘Distinguished members of the Committee, I am aware of the numerous petitions against me particularly on the current INEC Commissioner. The woman is from Delta State where I also come from, but she is married to a Cross River man and she is representing Cross River and not Delta’.
‘Since 2019 elections, I have removed myself from active politics and even in the ongoing APC membership drive, I didn’t register and currently, I am not a member of any political party,” she maintained.
However findings have shown that in the affidavit she swore on June 30, 2021, she clearly indicated that she remained a member of the APC and an active participant in a UK election where she also contested. She also disclosed her membership of Buhari’s support organization.
Part of the affidavit read, ‘That I am an educationist, having served as Headmistress of Auntie Margaret International School, Calabar. I have also served as a lecturer at the Epping Forest College, Essex, United Kingdom’.
‘That I am also engaged in active politics and a member of the Neighborhood Watch and have also contested the Local Government elections under the Conservative party in the United Kingdom’.
‘I am also a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress and a volunteer at Buhari Support Organization’.
Earlier, the 62-year old Onochie had denied being a member of any political party while responding to Senator Instafanus Gyang’s request for her to defend the affidavit she personally submitted to the panel while she was preparing to attend the screening .
Her explanation made the committee uncomfortable and when Senator Lawal Gumau, who was seated next to the Committee Chairman interjected after being whispered to by the chairman, a distinct disagreement was evident between PDP senators and their APC counterparts.
Former governor of Bayelsa Senator Seriake Dickson expressed his worries, noting that he would have supported Onochie’s nomination since she’s from the Niger Delta, but that her membership of the APC was against the tenets of the constitution, therefore a major issue.