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Senate in rowdy session over e-voting

Posted by By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja on 2006/05/25 | Views: 281 |

Senate in rowdy session over e-voting


The Senate on Wednesday witnessed a rowdy session over a motion on e-voting, sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora (AD, Lagos).

The Senate on Wednesday witnessed a rowdy session over a motion on e-voting, sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora (AD, Lagos).

Mamora had, on Tuesday, May 23, 2006, vide Order 42 of the Senate’s rules, which deals with “matter of urgent public importance,” sought the leave of the the upper legislative house to present his motion on e-voting.

Although he was granted the leave to present the motion, senators who had consented to his request the previous day turned round, on Wednesday, to shout him down.

Indications that some senators may have changed their minds concerning the motion came to the fore when Senator Arthur Nzeribe (PDP, Imo), raised a point of order, as Mamora was about being recognized by Senate President Ken Nnamani to take the floor. Relying on Order 62(1), Nzeribe argued that since the bill was before the National Assembly, Mamora should not be allowed to go ahead with the motion.

Although no definite ruling was taken on the order, the Senate President, nonetheless, maintained that the bill was not before the Senate, adding that Mamora could present his motion, as the Senate had agreed the previous day.
After arguing for and against the presentation of the motion, amid uncontrolled shouts from across the Senate chambers, Nnamani said: “Let’s allow him present the motion. We will refer whatever the motion seeks to achieve to the conference committee.”

Presenting the motion, Mamora said: “I cannot be dispirited in this at all. After our position (on third term) had been made known, we must work on other institutions to help deepen democracy in this country and that’s what this motion seeks to achieve.”

He argued that despite outlawing the electronic voting system (EVS) by both chambers of the National Assembly during the passage of the 2006 electoral bill, the INEC chairman was still insisting that there was nothing stopping him from using the EVS in 2007.

“ The INEC chairman has continued to grant interviews and make pronouncements suggesting unyielding commitment to the use of EVS for 2007 elections. The realities on ground (e.g the absence of updated voters’ register barely less than nine months to elections) do not suggest seriousness nor give confidence as to INEC’s preparedness for the 2007 elections.”

To this end, he submitted, among other things, that the Senate should urge the conference committee to expressly and unambiguously outlaw the use of EVS in 2007 elections as well as direct its committee on INEC to assess the level of its funding and determine whether same was adequate and in accordance with the Appropriation Act 2006, with a view to reporting back within two weeks.
The motion was seconded by Senator Sule Yari Gandi (ANPP, Sokoto).

Gandi had hardly rested his submission when Senator Mohammed Abba Aji, a new member of PDP from Borno, raised another point of order. Also relying on Order 62 (1), he maintained that regardless of what the motion sought to achieve, the Senate rule did not permit its sustenance.
Reacting to Gandi’ position, Senator Abubakar Sodangi (PDP, Nasrawa), also relying on Order 65, said that it was the Senate president who has the power to say whether or not the motion be sustained by the senate.

Senator Victor Isa Kassim Oyofo (PDP, Edo) who maintained that the Senate could reverse itself after inadvertently allowing Mamora to move the motion, equally warned that the Senate should not be used as a ground to subvert the constitution, adding, “there are some motions that can no longer move the nation forward.”

Responding, Mamora, who said he was highly disappointed by Oyofo’s comment, insisted that he had no ulterior motive in bringing the motion.

Apparently sensing that the situation was getting out of hand, with tempers rising, the Senate president said: “ We have upheld our obligation by allowing him (Mamora) to move the motion. Let me put the question, and if we don’t want to continue with it, we stop.”
When the question was put to vote, majority of the senators voted against Mamora’s motion and it was killed.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.