Published On: Thu, Feb 15th, 2018

Senate Divided Over Passage Of Amended Law Reordering 2019 General Elections

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By Nuel Suji – The senate Wednesday endorsed the report of the joint committees on the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act which reorder the schedules of 2019 general elections, even as some senators kicked against the passage of the bill.

Earlier, the same report of the Conference committee of both chambers was passed at the House of Representatives.

The report presented for consideration to senate on plenary Wednesday by chairman senate committee on INEC, Suleiman Nazif was not discussed at the committee of the whole as provided in the senate rule.

Trouble started after Senate Committee, Chairman on INEC, Sen. Nazif presented the report for consideration.

Immediately the chairman concluded the presentation, Senate President, Bukola Saraki put the question for a voice vote as to those in favour or against its passage into law and the bill was passed.

But, Senator Ovie Omo Agege (PDP Delta) kicked against the passage of the bill demanding for division to determine the actual vote. But the Senate President ruled him out of order but,

However, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano), Senator Adamu Abdullahi (APC Nasarawa) further raised point of order against the passage but were equally over-ruled.

Thereafter, the aggrieved Senators walked out of the chamber to address newsmen on the issue.

Briefing Journalists, 10 of the aggrieved senators described the passage is unconstitutional.

The 10 senators are Abdullahi Adamu, Nasarawa-APC; Ovie Omo-Agege, Delta-APC; Binta Garba, Adamawa-APC; Ali Wakili, Bauchi-APC; Kurfi Umaru, Katsina-APC and Andrew Uchendu, Rivers-APC.

Others are: Abdullahi Danbaba, Sokoto-APC; Yahaya Abdullahi, Kebbi-APC; Abu Ibrahim, Katsina-APC, and Benjamin Uwajumogu, Imo-APC.

Speaking on behalf of the senators, Senator Abdulahi Adams claimed that not less than 59 Senators kicked against the passage of the bill

“We are part of the whole body of senators who oppose the process by which the so-called conference report was laid and considered as rushed. I had the opportunity (to speak), I was heard but the Senate President said my observation was being noted.

“The reliance upon the relevant statutes, some of which have actually not been signed to the best of our knowledge, and we did challenge that anybody who has the signed copy should produce it there so as to check doubting Thomases. We believe the process was rushed. There is no need for the rush. Give everybody the opportunity. There is no reason for just two people to speak on the issue. It’s not the tradition of the senate.”

Ovie Omo-Agege, said that the bill would not have been passed if the presiding officer had allowed a division.

He also alleged that the House of Representative did not form a quorum when the issue was considered.

“For some of you who are familiar with what transpired in the House of Reps, only 36 members were on the floor when this so-called amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act was introduced. The position we took is that 36 people cannot determine the destiny of 360 people in the house, which is now being carried over to 109 in the senate. The least we are owed is for this so-called amendment to be deliberated upon and our rule is clear.

“We have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of section 25 of the Electoral Act. If that division was allowed today, 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to section 25.”

The aggrieved lawmakers also said the House of Representatives did not form a quorum when its own amended version was adopted as only thirty six House Members were at plenary hence the conference committee should have taken note of such an observation to prevent the Supreme Court from kicking against the National Assembly’s position should incase it ends at the court.

But speaking on behalf of the Senate leadership, Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, who addressed journalists immediately after the aggrieved Senators left the Senate Press Centre, rejected the accusations of partisanship and personal interests leveled against the Saraki leadership.

The Senate spokesman denied allegations by his aggrieved colleagues that there was no quorum before the conference committee report was adopted at Wednesday’s plenary.

He said the upper chamber won’t also cast aspersions on any decision undertaken by the House of Representatives because it is one National Assembly.

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