Senators nears physical combat, condemns militarisation of 2019 elections, probes INEC

In a storming session that almost degenerated to a physical fight,  the Senate on  Wednesday, condemned the alleged militarisation of the 2019 general elections, describing it as dangerous for survival of democracy in Nigeria.

This is as it directed its committee on Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), to carry out thorough investigation on all perceived inconsistent application of electoral laws by the electoral body in the general elections.

In providing level playing field and equal standards in future elections, the upper legislative chamber urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give assent to the recent Amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act.

It also urged INEC to in future elections, ensure unrestricted and consistent application of all electoral laws without biase  to a candidate or a party .

These were fallouts of a motion moved to that effect by Senator Dino Melaye ( PDP Kogi West) and co sponsored by seven other senators on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP).

Senator Melaye had in his lead debate on the motion titled: ” The militarisation of the Nigerian Electoral Process and the inconsistent application of Electoral Laws by the Independent National Electoral  Commission ( INEC)”, submitted that the alleged ugly trend  witnessed in the 2019 general elections must not be allowed to happen in future elections.

He particularly cited  alleged cases of such ugly incidences of militarisation of electoral process in Kogi and Rivers States.

According to him, while the Aide de Camp ( ADC) to the Kogi State Governor , Alhaji Yahaya Bello, held members of opposition parties to ransom during the elections, the military , particularly men of the Nigerian Army did same to voters and INEC officers in Rivers State.

“This  extreme militarization of a democratic electoral process, and the inconsistent application of electoral laws by INEC in matters of national elections pose serious threats to our democracy, and has security implications that must be nipped in the bud;

“Persuaded that the nation is on the edge of a precipice, and our democracy can be saved for future posterity, if only we can build strong institutions that can operate within established laws, and with our military forces restricted to their traditional roles of defending the nation”, he said.

Though the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan ( APC Yobe North) , seconded the motion on the grounds of required legislative intervention in strengthening the Nation’s electoral process , but trouble started when the Senate Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi ( PDP Ekiti South),  made  her contributions.

Debate on the motion assumed partisan dimension when Olujimi in her conyributions alleged that rigging was legalised in the elections and votes buying was the order of the day.

Angered by her submission , the senate leader , raised  order 53(4) of the senate ‘s standing rules for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to call her to order amidst shouts of no more debates on the elections !, go to court! …from many of the APC senators.

Even efforts made by the Senate President , Bukola Saraki to make senators debate the motion dispassionately and not along partisan lines proved abortive which made him to hurriedly put the four prayers on the motion to voice votes .

Partisan colouration of debates on the motion was further demonstrated by both the PDP and the APC senators during the voice voting as the PDP senators shouted ayes ! to all the four prayers while their APC counterparts , shouted nay! with the Senate President ruling in favour of the ayes. 

Expressing his displeasure over the motion and resolutions adopted by the Senate, Senator Andrew Uchendu ( APC Rivers East), told journalists after the plenary that the Senate president was biased in his handling of the debate .

He said being a senator from Rivers state  used as reference point by Senator Dino Melaye in the motion, he ought to have been allowed to give the true  accounts of what actually happened in the state during the general elections.

“I feel very sad that I was denied opportunity to make contribution to a motion in which wide allegations on what did not happen were made against the military in Rivers State by a senator from another state.

“The alleged militarisation of electoral process was not done by the military in Rivers state but by armed youths empowered by the governor , Nysom Wike through his Neighborhood Watch Corps.

“Wike’s  armed thugs killed soldiers and innocent people in the state during the elections and not the other way round”, he said.

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