Reps fight over controversial Electoral Act clause

Members of the House of Representatives, on Thursday engaged in fisticuffs as tempers rose over disagreement on a clause in the Electoral Act amendment Bill currently being considered.

This was as Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.announced invitation of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmud Yakub and Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), NCC Umar Danbatta, to appear before the House to offer insights into some of the nutty issues.

Plenary of the House had earlier turned rowdy, when Deputy Speaker Idris Wase who was presiding over the consideration, gave majority nod to negating voice votes over a proposal that “conduct of elections and transmission of results shall be done electronically”, leading to protest by members who voted in support of the proposal.

However, the House which was initially billed to proceed n its summer holiday on Thursday, was forced to suspend the consideration until 10am today (Friday), during which the INEC and NCC bosses will appear, when it was obvious that no progress could be made beyond clause 52 of the over 150-clause Bill.

Wase had made moves after the session was reverted to plenary from the Committee of the Whole, to report what transpired but provoked members when he added the controversial clause as what have been adopted. The shouting bouts between opposing members was to degenerate into physical attacks.

The consideration of the Electoral Act amendment report was smoothly progressing until clause 52 on the report was mentioned, when Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu proposed an amendment to the effect that the “conduct of election and transmission of results shall be done electronically”.

Same proposal was seconded by Deputy Whip, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, after which Deputy Speaker Idris Wase who chairs the committee of the whole put question for voice votes. He had earlier expressed opinion that there places where GSM network may not be accessed”

His ruling that the “nays have it” against the thunderous ayes instantly threw the House into uproar, with members accusing him of bias.

Even at the return of a seeming normalcy, he insisted that if the electronic voting and transmission of results is adopted, “what happen to our brothers in Yobe and Maiduguri where the masts are down?”

After about an hour of no progress due to the disagreement, it took the intervention of the Speaker to address his colleagues of the need to continue the process this morning.

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