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ELECTORAL ACT: In apparent vote against free, fair election, APC, PDP Senators toe party lines as Senate waters down electronic transmission of results

*Anambra, Oyo Senators run away * Lagos, Osun, Ekiti Senators vote against electronic transmission of results

From NDUKAIHE UGWU, Abuja

Yesterday’s vote in the Senate on electronic transmission of election results brought out the fault lines in the nation’s democratic practice and the seeming anti-democratic tendencies in many a politician as Senators voted across party lines to water down provisions of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 in relations to electronic transmission of election results, considered an indispensable antidote to election rigging in Nigeria.

Interestingly, while some Senators from the “more enlightened” parts of the country overwhelmingly voted against retaining the original provision of the Act on electronic transmission of election results, others like the three Senators from Anambra and two from Oyo States, simply ran away to escape voting!

Indeed, as became obvious in the Senate yesterday, voting on the provisions of clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act (Amendment ) Bill 2021simply tore senators apart across party lines during the consideration of the report containing 154 clauses as the distinguished Senators ditched national interest and voted across party lines.

The clause which, as recommended by the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), provides for electronic transmission of election results by INEC where and when practicable, was rejected by an amendment made by Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North).

Abdullahi, while calling for the amendment through a point of order, added a proviso that such an electronic transmission of results by INEC should be subjected to certification of network coverage by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

The clause as originally recommended by the committee states that: “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

The amended version adopted by the Senate after voice votes and votes counted during division states that “INEC may consider electronic transmission of results provided the National Network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).”

The clause which took Senate about three hours to consider and approve, first created a stalemate when Albert Akpan Bassey (PDP Akwa Ibom North East ), countered the amendment made by Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

Akpan in his own amendment sought for the retention of the provision as originally proposed by the committee which was however voted against when put to voice votes as ruled by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan .

After the ruling, the Senate was in a stalemate for about 15 minutes, which led to a hurried closed door session.

Apparently unable to reach a consensus on the matter at the closed door session which lasted for about an hour, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe rose through order 73 of the Senate Standing Rules to call for a division on amendment sought by Bassey Akpan.

Though the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North) and Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele ( APC Ekiti Central), separately made spirited efforts to make Abaribe withdraw his motion on division, but Abaribe stood his ground for the division and physical counting of votes.

Before the physical voting done by calling the senators one after the other per state, the President of the Senate explained to them that those in favour of amendment made by Abdullahi should say no, while those for the counter amendment made by Bassey should say yes .

After the explanation, the Clerk of the Senate, Ibrahim El – Ladan presided over the election by calling the senators one after the other on the basis of state by state.

At the end of the physical voting which lasted for about 40 minutes, a total of 80 senators voted, out of which 52 voted for the amendment made by Abdullahi and 28 voted for original provision of the clause.

As announced by the Clerk, 28 senators were absent during the division and voting session.

While all the 52 Senators who voted for the amendment belonged to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), 26 out of the 28 senators who voted against the amendment belonged to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), indicating party line of voting.

Ironically, Chairman of Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya who presented the report with original provision of clause 52(3), voted against it by saying no to Bassey’s call for its retention.

All the three senators from Anambra and Ogun States, ran away at the start of the physical voting. The same way two out of the three senators from Oyo State, hurriedly bolted out of the chamber before the commencement of voting.

On the basis of yes and no voting for the original provision of the clause, those who voted no were Senators Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Ishaku Elisha ( Adamawa North) , Dahiru Aishatu Binani (Adamawa Central), Jika Daudu Haliru (Bauchi Central) , Bukachuwa Adamu Muhammad (Bauchi North) and Degi Eremienyo (Bayelsa East).

Others are Senators Abubakar Kyari (Borno North), Shettima Kashim (Borno Central), Ali Ndume (Borno South), Stephen Odey (Cross River North), Ovie Omo – Agege (Delta Central), Peter Nwaoboshi, (Delta North), Francis Alimikhena ( Edo North) and Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central).

Also others who voted no were Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Amos Bulus (Gombe South), Alkali Saidu (Gombe North), Frank Ibezim (Imo North), Hadeija Hassan Ibrahim (Jigawa North East), Abdul – Kwari Suleiman (Kaduna North), Uba Sani ( Kaduna Central), Kabiru Gaya ( Kano South), Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Mundiya Bello (Katsina South) and Abdullahi Barkiya (Katsina Central) .

Also in this group are Yahaya Abdullahi ( Kebbi North) , Abdullahi Adamu Aliero ( Kebbi Central) , Oseni Yakubu ( Kogi Central) , Smart Adeyemi ( Kogi West ) , Isah Jibrin ( Kogi East ), Lola Ashiru ( Kwara South) , Yahaya Oloriegbe ( Kwara Central ) .

Highly surprising within the no category were the Lagos senators excluding Tokunbo Abiru who was absent.

The rest Senators who voted no were , Adamu Abdullahi ( Nasarawa West), Tanko Al -Makura ( Nasarawa North) , Akwashiki Godiya ( Nasarawa South) , Mohammed Sani ( Niger East) , Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi ( Niger North), Bima Enagi ( Niger South) , Robert Boroffice ( Ondo North) , Basiru Ajibola ( Osun Central) , Adelere Oriolowo ( Osun West ) , Dimka Ayuba( Plateau Central ) , Ibrahim Gobir ( Sokoto East ) Yusuf Yusuf ( Taraba Central) , Isa Shuaibu Lau ( Taraba North) Bomai Ibrahim Mohammed ( Yobe South) , Sahabi Ya’u ( Zamfara North ) and Lawali Hassan Anka ( Zamfara West ) .

Those who voted yes were Senators Adenugba Fadahunsi, Clifford Ordia Matthew Urhoghide , Kola Balogun, Gyang Istifanus, George Sekibo,  Biodun Olujimi, Mpigi Barinada, Betty Apiafi, Abdullahi Danbaba and Philip Aduda

Others are Chukwuka Utazi, Abdullahi Ibrahim Danbaba, Francis Onyewuchi, Danjuma La’ah Patrick Akinyelure, Enyinnaya Abaribe, among others.

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