Tempers rise in Senate over military’s involvement in polls

Tempers flared on the floor of Senate, yesterday, over plans by lawmakers to investigate alleged militarisation of the general elections.

In a motion sponsored by Mr Dino Melaye and seven other Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators, Senate condemned the massive use of military forces in the elections.

It also directed its committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to investigate all perceived inconsistent application of electoral laws by the electoral umpire in the 2019 elections.

It urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give assent to the recent amendment to the Electoral Act to ensure a level playing field and adoption of equal standards in national elections for a strong and peaceful democracy in Nigeria.

Melaye recalled how PDP leaders in Kogi State were prevented from gaining access to the state on the eve of presidential and National Assembly elections.

“On the eve of the presidential and National Assembly elections, ADC to Governor of Kogi State, mounted a roadblock with over 200 security agents, some of who are fake. Many politicians of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where denied access to the state. A former governor, Idris Wada had to return to Abuja.

“Some senators here and members of House of Representatives were stopped from coming into Lokoja. I had to consult some celestial powers and that was how I got into Kogi State.

“This is not about PDP or APC. This is about Nigeria. The senate can’t look the other way, while these things are ongoing. Lecturers and youth corps members were killed during the elections. We can’t keep quiet in the face of obscenity.

“It is pathetic that there is no national broadcast from the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. We must not have this kind of elections again in this country.”

Senate Leader, Mr Ahmad Lawan supported the motion and urged his colleagues to come up with mechanisms that will strengthen the electoral process.

“The essence of having the Senate is to ensure that we provide legislative intervention whenever the need arises. We are here to smoothen processes in all affairs of governance. The challenges of elections in Nigeria have been here with it.

“We should consider those things we feel need the intervention of Senate. I believe that our process remains a journey. Our electoral process needs a lot of refinement.

“The Executive is also concerned. Here, we have an opportunity to discuss with INEC what the challenges have been so that we can have an evaluation of the entire situation. The ball is in our courts. We should review what happened and see where legislative intervention is required. Then we will put it up before the Executive.”

However, trouble started when Senate Minority Leader, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, described the 2019 general elections as a sham.

She accused APC of deploying agents of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and officers of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to polling units to harass opposition politicians across the country.

“What happened on March 23rd have been captured by Melaye. We are Nigerians and we are in Nigeria. For this country to favour us, we must speak truth to power. Whoever is siding what happened during the elections because of partisanship, he or she is unfair to Nigeria.

“That election was a sham. There was no way that election would have been an advancement of what we had in 2015. INEC was inconsistent. They used different methods in many places.

“Someone, somewhere, has refused to give assent to the electoral amendment. During the elections, rigging was legalised. We need to look at that as a legislature. Nigeria belongs to all of us. Being a member of a political party doesn’t make you more Nigerian. Nigeria has to move forward. APC must surrender itself to the processes in Nigeria.”

She was heckled by APC senators who protested.

Intervening, Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, urged members not to deviate from the issue at hand.

Speaking for APC senators, Lawan, who had earlier supported the motion, made a U-turn. Instead, he said there was an already established channels aggrieved persons could explore to address their misgivings about the elections.

“Whoever has any grievances can explore the options that have been made available. I don’t think this issue should be permitted here,” he said.

 

Sun

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