EXCLUSIVE: Buhari replaces Lauretta Onochie with Rhoda Gumus, another card-carrying member of APC

Third Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution prohibits appointment of anyone who is a card-carrying member of a political party as INEC commissioner.

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Rhoda Gumus, President Muhammadu Buhari’s replacement for Lauretta Onochie, is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Peoples Gazette can report.

Ms Gumus, an engineering professor at Niger-Delta University, was tapped by the Nigerian leader last month to replace Ms Onochie, his controversial aide on new media

Ms Onochie’s nomination was rejected by the Nigerian Senate in July last year, amidst relentless opposition over her bias and toxic personality.

Mr Buhari, on December 14, asked the Senate to confirm Ms Gumus as Ms Onochie’s replacement for INEC commissioner representing the South-South geopolitical zone. Senators have commenced confirmation hearings and may approve Ms Gumus’ nomination.

However, The Gazette has just obtained Ms Gumus’ registration documents that confirm her membership of the ruling party, an action that would violate the Nigerian Constitution if allowed to stand.

Prof. Rhoda Gumus’s APC membership card

Registration documents show Ms Gumus became a member of the APC on March 27, 2021, at Ward 08 in Yenagoa. Her membership number is 58315. Her name is also on the register of the party, and pressure groups within the ruling party have already congratulated her as a member.

If Ms Gumus is confirmed, she will lead the South South geopolitical zone for INEC, a position Mr Buhari had wanted Ms Onochie to occupy, according to people familiar with the political maths of the president. But the Third Schedule of the Nigerian Constitution prohibits appointment of anyone who is a card-carrying member of a political party as INEC commissioner. Senators dropped Ms Onochie last year on the same ground.

Prof Rhoda Gumus on number 27 in APC register

Ms Gumus did not return messages seeking comments from The Gazette about her membership of the APC.

But a group led by political activist Deji Adeyanju has already petitioned the Senate to reject Ms Gumus on constitutional grounds. Mr Adeyanju, in the letter addressed to Senate President Ahmed Lawan and copied to members of the committee on INEC, said Ms Gumus’ nomination should not be allowed to scale through because it will compromise the nation’s electoral integrity.

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