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Senate confirms Lauretta Onochie as NDDC board chairperson

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THE Senate has confirmed the appointment of Lauretta Onochie as the chairperson of the Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

She was confirmed alongside 12 other nominees during plenary on Tuesday, December 20.

Onochie was until her appointment President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media.

The President had earlier this month asked the Senate to confirm the nominees.

The nominees confirmed include Samuel Ogbokwu, from Bayelsa State, as the Managing Director, who would serve for two years, in order to complete the term of his predecessor.

Other members are Dimgba Erugba (Abia), Emem Willcox Wills (Akwa Ibom), Denyanbofa Dimaro (Bayelsa), Orok Duke (Cross River) and Pius Odudu (Edo).

Also confirmed are Anthony Ekenne, (Imo), Gbenga Edema (Ondo), Elekwachi Dimkpa (Rivers), Mohammed Kabir Abubakar, (Nasarawa, North-Cenral), Sadiq Sami Sule – Ikoh (Kebbi, North-West) and Tahir Mamman, SAN (Adamawa State, North-East)

Charles Airhiavbere, from Edo, was also confirmed as the Executive Director, Finance, while Charles Ogunmola, from Ondo, was confirmed as the Executive Director, Projects.

Onochie is an indigene of Onicha-Olona, in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.

She was previously nominated by the President as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but was rejected by the Senate.

Her eligibility as chairman of the NDDC board was a subject of controversy during the Senate committee screening after senators insisted that she was ineligible on the ground that she is not from an oil producing community.

During the screening, the senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson, asked Onochie if she was from an oil-producing community.

“I would like to know your local Government in Delta State and your community and whether to the best of your knowledge the community you come from is an oil-producing community or it has oil facilities located therein,” he said.

Dickson, a former governor of Bayelsa State, noted that nominees for positions on the NDDC management should come from oil producing areas.

“I want to observe that this is a fitting moment to commend the President. Finally, we have nominations to properly constitute the board of the NDDC as required by the Act.

“We should add a clause calling on the President to ensure that their nominees come from oil-producing areas as required by the law.”

Meanwhile Justice JK Omotosho of a Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier ordered the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the National Assembly and others to stay action on the screening of the NDCC nominees pending the hearing of motion filed by some aggrieved persons representing the Itsekiri ethnic nationality of Delta State.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Edward Ekpoko, Engr Victor Wood (both representing Itsekiri leaders of thought) and Edward Omagbmi, representing Omadino Unity Forum while the defendants are the President, Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, President of the Senate, the Senate, Lauretta Onochie and Chief Samuel Ogbuku.

In the originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2294/2022 the plaintiffs asked the court for a restraining order on the National Assembly from screening and confirming Onochie and other nominees.

The plaintiffs challenging the nomination of Onochie and Ogbuku on the grounds that it is the turn of the Itsekiri to occupy the positions of NDDC board chairman and managing director.

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