Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
There were hot exchanges at the National Assembly, yesterday, as lawmakers deliberated on the conduct of the controversial 2019 general elections.
The resolve of the senate to probe the elections followed a Point of Order by Dino Melaye in which he called on the Red Chamber to debate the way and manner the elections were conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country.
According to him, the debate would place the Senate in a pole position to advice President Muhammadu Buhari appropriately, as well as urge him to sign the amended Electoral Act for better polls in future.
The proposed motion, however, did not go down well with some senators, especially those of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) extraction.
Attempt by President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, to seekobtain leave of the chamber to allow Melaye present his motion at the next legislative day was attacked.
A senator on the floor was over heard shouting that the voice vote should be declared inconclusive by Saraki. Those opposed to the motion appeared to be louder in their shout of nay.
Saraki ruled that what was needed to allow the motion was one-fifth of the leave of the Senate.
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan took the floor to remind Saraki that his ruling on whether to allow the motion or not was not clear.
Lawan said: “A non-partisan motion was on the floor. We didn’t hear your ruling. What was your ruling on the motion? We did not hear your ruling.”
Saraki reiterated that what was needed to approve the motion to be debated was one-fifth of the leave of the Senate. He said one-fifth leave of the Senate was secured.
“My ruling is that the motion will be listed on the Order Paper for the next legislative day,” he replied.
Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’ Alla made attempt to deflate the motion by informing his colleagues that there was no motion on the floor in the first place.
Na’Alla said Melaye introduced himself as senator-elect instead of as a senator.
But Saraki reminded him that Melaye introduced himself as a senator representing Kogi West before adding that he was also a senator-elect.
Jibrin Barau’s attempt to call for division of the House to determine the position of senators on the motion was rejected by Saraki, who insisted that what was required to allow the motion was one-fifth leave of the Senate.
The Senate President further assured that the motion would first be screened at the leadership level before presentation and debate in the chamber.
He noted specifically that the motion would be considered as a pan-Nigerian one by ensuring that the debate is not partisan.
He also assured that issues in court will not be allowed as part of the motion.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives have kicked against the declaration of some elections inconclusive by INEC.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a debate on motion drawing the attention of the House to the spate of inconclusive polls in the country, stated that the electoral agency was overreaching itself.
At the end of the debate, the House resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to look into matter and advice it on how best to approach the issue, especially as it concerns the electoral guidelines, where INEC draws its power to declare polls inconclusive.
The comission had declared the March 9 governorship elections in Bauchi, Adamawa, Benue Kano and Plateau states inconclusive.
Leading debate on the motion entitled: The malady of inconclusive elections in Nigeria,” Sunday Karimi said since the Kogi State governorship election in November 2015, inconclusive polls has become a regular feature.
Lawmakers argued that because of the penchant of INEC for declaring elections inconclusive at the slightest opportunity, politicians were now in the habit of invading collation centres to disrupt the process.
They argued that contestants, more often, were emboldened to create crisis during elections or collation of results, once they were aware that their opponents were winning because they know that INEC will use the crisis as alibi to declare the election inconclusive.