LEGISREPORTS NG – Members of the House of Representatives yesterday disagreed strongly with each other along party line over attempts to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 forcing the deputy speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha to suspend consideration of the bill indefinitely.
The House also granted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the exclusive powers to request for deployment of military during elections by amending section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act.
If this amendment is signed into law, deployment of military during elections can only be done with the request from INEC.
The amended section 29 (1) reads: “ Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for purposes of securing the vote, the Commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in the manner determined by the Commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies.
“Provided that the Commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials”
This clause created a heated debate between PDP and APC lawmakers as the PDP led by the deputy House leader, Rep Leo Ogor (PDP Delta), argued vehemently that the proposed amendment be deleted out rightly to deny INEC the powers to request for deployment of armed forces.
Ogor’s position was countered by the minority leader, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos), and Rep Simon Arabor (PDP Kaduna), who submitted that the clause cannot be deleted at that stage and should be put to vote.
When the deputy speaker put it to question, the ayes overwhelmed the nays and the motion was negative.
However a point of order was raised by a member of the electoral matters committee, Rep Simon Arabor who argued that an amendment proposed and agreed to at the public hearing was visibly missing from the report.
Arabor complained that the amendment to section 31 to delete the proviso to clause 9, which stipulate that INEC cannot reject any candidate presented by a political party was not included in the report on the bill.
When called upon by the deputy speaker to react to the observation, chairman of the committee, Rep Jerimon Manwe (PDP Taraba), apologized and admitted that it was an omission because the committee was under pressure to submit its report.
In his ruling, the deputy speaker noted that he was not convinced with the explanation of the committee chairman that there were under pressure to submit report and so made some mistakes. He said it was obvious that the report had other defects and therefore its consideration be stood down until after the independence and Salah break celebrations.
“My dear colleagues, it is obvious to me that by admission of the omission of the chairman of the committee (Manwe), I want to rule that we suspend further consideration of the report”
No date was however fixed for the resumption of consideration of the report even as the House has adjourned plenary till October 14 to enable members observe independence and eid del kabir.
It will be recalled that the bill was referred to the committee on July 8, 2014 for public hearing and the committee submitted its report on Thursday, September 25, 2014.