I am a member of APC, active in politics, INEC candidate from Buhari, Lauretta Onochie, speaks under oath

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A court document revealed how Lauretta Onochie, presidential candidate for a sensitive post on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), proudly declared her membership in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ms. Onochie, currently personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on social media, also confirmed in the document obtained on Friday by PREMIUM TIMES that she was active in politics.

She also described herself as a “volunteer with the Buhari Support Organization (BSO)”, a vibrant network of strong political supporters of Mr. Buhari since the 2015 elections.

The document, which is his affidavit filed in a pending lawsuit, further confirms his widely known and unapologetic partisanship, which has sparked public outrage over his recent appointment by Mr Buhari as national commissioner of the ‘INEC.

She filed the affidavit in a libel action she brought before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in 2016.

In the CV / 852/16 lawsuit, Ms. Onochie claims 1 billion naira in damages against Emeka Ugwuonye, ​​whom she accused of defaming her by calling her a trafficker of young girls for the purposes of international prostitution, in a Facebook post on January 21, 2016.

The lawsuit was amended and re-filed on March 8, 2017.

PREMIUM TIMES has confirmed that Ms Onochie appeared as a witness in the pending trial before Sylvanus Oriji, a judge of the Apo Division of the High Court of the CTF.

She was only cross-examined by the defense team last year, specifically on February 26 and March 3, 2020, when she also adopted as true all of her statements contained in her affidavit.

The lawyer she hired to file the case is Festus Keyamo, a senior lawyer from Nigeria, who is the outgoing Minister of Labor and Employment in Mr Buhari’s cabinet.

Mr. Keyamo is a leading figure in the Delta State CPA like herself.

As her selection for the INEC job nears amid growing public condemnation of her appointment, a law firm has written to the Senate denying that she is a member of the CPA.

“It is therefore incumbent on her accusers to prove whether Lauretta Onochie is a card-holder member of a political party,” the lawyers wrote without declaring that they were acting for Ms. Onochie.

Self-confirmation

The judicial document obtained by this newspaper, however, removed any doubt about his membership of the APC and his strong political bias for the political interests of Mr. Buhari.

She made the disclosure in the document, boasting of being an educator and “active politician,” whose reputation was tarnished by the Facebook post she complains about in her lawsuit.

She said that with the “words” used in the message, her reputation “has been severely damaged in character, credit, reputation and integrity” and “has been brought to public scandal, hate and despair. contempt and suffered damage “.

“I am an educator having served as Principal of Aunt Margaret International School in Calabar and Principal of Holy Child High School in Calabar. I was also a lecturer at Epping Forest College Essex UK, ”she said of her career as an educator.

Regarding her political career, she said: “I am also engaged in active politics and a member of Neighborhood Watch and also participated in local government elections under the Conservative Party in the UK.

DOWNLOAD THE COURT DOCUMENT HERE

“I am also a member of the All Progressives Congress and a volunteer with the Buhari Support Group. “

When contacted by phone by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, Ms. Onochie asked our reporter to text her the inquiries.

However, she has not yet responded to our journalist’s text message asking her if she had asked the lawyers who sent a letter to the Senate to deny her membership in the APC and if she had always maintained her affidavit affirming her membership. at the party.

She did not answer the subsequent call from our correspondent.

Background

On October 13, 2020, Senate Speaker Ahmad Lawan read a letter from President Buhari requesting confirmation of three candidates for the post of INEC national commissioners and a resident electoral commissioner.

Ms. Lauretta Onochie, from Aniocha Local Government Area in Delta State, has been appointed National Commissioner of INEC to represent the South-South region.

Eight months after her appointment, the Senate on June 9 referred Ms Onochie’s name to its INEC committee to begin her selection for appointment.

Many Nigerians condemned his appointment because of his overt partisanship.

The Nigerian constitution explicitly prohibits the appointment of a person like Ms. Onochie, who belongs to a political party, as the national commissioner of INEC. Credible voices, including senior lawyers, civil society groups and media organizations, have also said so.

Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), YIAGA Africa and nine other civil society groups, in their Petition of June 16, 2021 to the Senate, rejected Ms Onochie’s appointment to INEC on many grounds, including her partisan spirit.

They cited Article 156 (1) (a) and the Third Schedule, Part 1, Article F, Subsection 14 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as disqualifying her from holding the office as a full member of an APC card.

A former 2nd vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Ubani, cited the same constitutional provisions when opposing the appointment of Ms Onochie in a letter to the Senate.

Other Nigerians and institutions also raised objections to the nomination in separate letters and statements.

Mrs. Onochie’s costume

The crux of the matter in Ms Onochie’s libel suit concerns an article she attributed to a certain Mr Ugwuonye in a Facebook group, “DUE PROCESS ADVOCATES” on January 21, 2016.

Ms Onochie reproduced what she claims to be the defamatory statement issued by Mr Ugwuonye, ​​calling her a “vicious trafficker of poor girls in international prostitution”.

The post is titled “A MAJOR BREAK IN FOLLOW-UP OF DUBAI MOMS AND THEIR AGENTS – A KEY MRS REVEALED AS SOCIALITY WITH APPEARANCE ON CONNECTIONS WITH A NIGERIAN POLITICIAN”.

In the message that Ms. Onochie reproduced in her trial, the author accused her of trafficking young girls to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Italy and Greece.

It was alleged in the post that she is known as “Aunt Lolly” within her human trafficking ring in foreign countries.

He added that Ms Onochie is “in the business of recruiting young women, promising them a good life in Dubai and elsewhere, swearing their parents in shrines, selling them for $ 5,000 to $ 15,000, making nude videos of them. ‘them and using thugs to intimidate their parents. “

Ms Onochie denied the allegations in her lawsuit, demanding a retraction of the post and N1 billion in damages against the defendant.

She said the post was made to damage her reputation.

She said that contrary to the Facebook post’s allegation of her involvement in trafficking girls, she “is at the forefront of the campaign for girls’ emancipation and the empowerment of women.”

DOWNLOAD THE COURT DOCUMENT HERE

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