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Nigerian Senate Plenary of 15th July, 2021: passes Electoral Act (2021)

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Nigerian Senate Plenary of 15th July, 2021 passed the Electoral Act (2021) that allows INEC, NCC and the NASS to determine e-transfer of elections results.

After the heated Senate plenary of July 7, 2021 which passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (2021) that nearly resulted into division of the red hollowed chambers, the Nigerian Senate plenary of 15th July, 2021 finally lived to the wishes of the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But alas, it was a pyrrhic victory.

One of the orders of the day was the consideration of the report on the Electoral Act No. 6 2021 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122 which was presented by the committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The bone of contention was clause 52(3) of the bill which stated that “The Commission (INEC) may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

Senator Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), moved a motion to counter the recommendation, stating instead that “The Commission (INEC) may consider electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”

Even though the PDP cried blue murder and sought to retain the report’s initial recommendation by calling for division which was accepted, their efforts degenerated into an exercise in futility when they scored an own goal.

Nigerian senators in a heated debate. Photograph: @TopeBrown, @NgrSenate

Proceedings

Senator Yakubu Oseni (Kogi Central, PDP) moved for the adoption of votes and proceedings for Wednesday, 14th July, 2021, and was seconded by Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central, PDP).

Petitions

The petitions received from the constituents of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central, APC) and that of Senator Obinna Ogba against the Inspector General of Police, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), respectively, were laid and referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. The committee is to report back within four weeks.

The DSP’s petition was over the alleged unlawful dismissal of a member of his constituency from the Nigerian Police Force.

Point of Order

The senator representing Kaduna South, Senator Danjuma Lah (Kaduna South, PDP), cited Order 42 and 52 to seek the leave of the Senate to present a motion on the urgent need for the declaration of emergency over the insecurity situation in some parts of Southern Kaduna, and was seconded by Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central).

The Senate resolved to observe a minute silence in honour of the deceased. It then called on the Federal Government to declare a security emergency in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District and to consider setting up a Military Task Force in the troubled parts of the state as an interim measure “to contain varying attacks by armed herdsmen.”

According to a communique by the New Media Unit of office of the Senate President, the Senate also urged “security agencies to intensify fire force by preventing and bringing to justice all persons involved in these attacks.”

The Senate finally called on the federal government to set up Internally Displaced Persons Camps to cater for all who have been displaced by the attacks, while also urging the government to “implore NEMA to provide food and relief materials for the people camping in the IDP Camps” right now.

Presentation and consideration of reports

In the Senate Plenary of 15th July, 2021, four committees’ chairmen moved motions to present reports on works performed by their respective committees. The reports were laid and deliberated upon.

1) The Nigerian Maritime Zones Act (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 49) which was submitted by and a motion moved by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central, APC) on behalf of the joint committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters, and Navy and Marine Transport. The report was laid after Senator Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev  (Benue North-West, PDP) seconded the motion.

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Senator Opeyemi Bamidele explaining a point. Photograph: @TopeBrown, @NgrSenate

2) The motion to lay the report on the 2018-2020 Federal Government External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan No. 1 by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, was moved by Senator Clifford Ordia (Edo Central, PDP) and was seconded by Senator Bima Enagi (Niger South, APC). The Senate approved the recommendations of the report.

3) The Conference Committee report on The Petroleum Industry Bill, 2021 (SB. 510) was submitted by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Senate Leader – Kebbi North, APC). The Senate approved the recommendations of the report.

4) A motion on the confirmation of the nomination of Sani Mohammed Adam SAN (North Central) for appointment as Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was moved by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South, APC) on behalf of the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Senator Danladi Sankara (Jigawa North West, APC) seconded the motion.

The Senate dissolved into Committee of the Whole to consider the report, and after reverting back to plenary, confirmed the nominee as a Commissioner representing North Central in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

5) The motion for the consideration of the report on the Electoral Act No. 6 2021 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) by the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was again moved by ex-Kano state governor Senator Kabiru Gaya and this time, seconded by ex-Bayelsa state governor, Senator Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa West, PDP).

In the Committee of the Whole, the Senate considered the report clause by clause until it degenerated into a heated debate with regards to clause 52(3) of the committee report which initially states that: “The Commission (INEC) may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

The Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, moved a motion wherein he proposed an amendment to clause 52(3). His amendment reads, “The Commission (INEC) may consider electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”

The motion was carried after a voice vote but was immediately challenged by Senator Albert Bassey (Akwa Ibom North East, PDP) through a counter amendment motion that the initial recommendation of the committee be retained. That is, clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act No. 6 2021 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) should read: “The Commission (INEC) may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

But Senator Bassey’s amendment failed after a voice vote was taken again.

Immediately, the senate descended into a closed-door session which lasted for about 15 minutes.

SP Ahmad Lawan and DSP Ovie Omo-Agege. Photograph, @TopeBrown NgrSenate

After the Senate resumed from the closed-door session, the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South, PDP) cited Order 73 to insist on a call for division of the Senate to vote on Senator Albert Bassey’s motion on an amendment to Clause 52(3).

The Senate President upheld the point of order raised by Senator Abaribe and called for a division.

Out of a total of 80 Senators present, 52 voted for the retention of the ‘Sabi Abdullahi Amendment’, while 28 voted for the ‘Bassey Amendment’. The other 28 Senators that make up the 108 in the upper chamber, excluding the Senate President, were absent during the senate plenary of July 15, 2021.

Sabi Abdullahi amendmentAlbert Bassey amendmentAbsentees
1. Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa West)1. Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North-East)1. Abba Moro (PDP-Benue South)
2. Abdullahi Barkiya (APC-Katsina Central)2. Betty Apiafi (PDP-Rivers West)2. Adetokunbo Abiru (APC-Lagos East)
3. Abubakar Kyari (APC-Borno North)3. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti South)3. Aliyu Wamakko (APC-Sokoto North)
4. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi Central)4. Christopher Ekpenyong (PDP-Akwa Ibom North-West)4. Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi South)
5. Aderele Oriolowo (APC-Osun West)5. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu North)5. Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano North)
6. Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC-Katsina North)6. Cleopas Zuwoghe (PDP-Bayelsa Central)6. Buhari Abdulfatai (APC-Oyo North)
7. Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC-Adamawa Central)7. Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo Central)7. Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP-Enugu East)
8. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC-Niger North)8. Danjuma La’ah (PDP-Kaduna South)8. Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba South)
9. Alkali Saidu (APC-Gombe North)9. Emmanuel Orker-jev (PDP-Benue North-West)9. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-East)
10. Amos Bulus (APC-Gombe South)10. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South)10. Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun Central)
11. Ashiru Yisa (APC-Kwara South)11. Eyankeyi Akon Etim (PDP-Akwa Ibom South)11. Ibrahim Gaidam (APC-Yobe East)
12. Bello Mandiya (APC-Katsina South)12. Francis Adenigba Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun East)12. Ibrahim Shekarau (APC-Kano Central)
13. Birma Mohammed Enagi (APC-Niger South)13. Francis Onyewuchi (PDP-Imo East)13. Ike Ekweramadu (PDP-Enugu West)
14. Bomai Ibrahim Mohammed (APC-Yobe South)14. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers East)14. Lilian Uche Ekwunife (PDP-Anambra Central)
15. Danladi Sankara (APC-Jigawa North-West)15. Gershom Bassey (PDP-Cross River South)15. Mohammed Bulkachuwa (APC-Bauchi North)
16. Degi Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa East)16. Gyang Istifanus (PDP-Plateau North)16. Mohammed Hassan (APC-Zamfara Central)
17. Francis Alimikhena (APC-Edo North)17. Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba (PDP-Sokoto South)17. Mohammed Sabo (APC-Jigawa South-West)
18. Francis Ibezim (APC-Imo North)18. James Manager (PDP-Delta South)18. Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo South)
19. Godiya Akwashiki (APC-Nasarawa North)19. Kola Balogun (PDP-Oyo South)19. Olalekan Mustapha (APC-Ogun East)
20. Hadejia Hassan Ibrahim (APC-Jigawa North-East)20. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP-Edo South)20. Olubunmi Adetunmbi (APC-Ekiti North)
21. Hezekiah Dimka Ayuba (APC-Plateau Central)21. Mpigi Barinada (PDP-Rivers South-East)21. Patrick Ifieanyi Uba (YPP-Anambra South)
22. Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir (APC-Sokoto East)22. Nnachi Ama Micheal (PDP-Ebonyi South)22. Rochas Okorocha (APC-Imo West)
23. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara Central)23. Obinna Ogba (PDP-Ebonyi Central)23. Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra North)
24. Isah Jibrin (APC-Kogi East)24. Patrick Ayo Akinyelure (PDP-Ondo Central)24. Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central)
25. Ishaku Elisha Abbo (APC-Adamawa North)25. Philip Aduda (PDP-Abuja FCT)25. Theodore Orji (PDP-Abia Central)
26. Jika Dauda Haliru (APC-Bauchi Central)26. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi North)26. Tolu Odebiyi (APC-Ogun West)
27. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano South)27. Sandy Onor (PDP-Cross River Central)27. Umar Sadiq (APC-Kwara North)
28. Kashim Shettima (APC-Borno Central)28. Seriake Dickson (PDP-Bayelsa West)28. Yaroe Binos Dauda (PDP-Adamawa South)
29. Lawal Yahaya Gamau (APC-Bauchi South)
30. Lawali Anka (APC-Zamfara West)
31. Mohammed Ali Ndume (APC-Borno South)
32. Mohammed Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe Central)
33. Mohammed Sani Musa (APC-Niger East)
34. Nora Ladi Dadu’ut (APC-Plateau South)
35. Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos-Central)
36. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti Central)
37. Orji Uzor Kalu (APC-Abia North)
38. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC-Delta Central)
39. Peter Nwaoboshi (APC-Delta North)
40. Robert Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo North)
41. Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u (APC-Zamfara North)
42. Shuaibu Isa Lau (APC-Taraba North)
43. Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi West)
44. Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos-West)
45. Stephen Odey (APC-Cross River North)
46. Suleiman Abdul Kwari (APC-Kaduna North)
47. Surajudeen Ajibola (APC-Osun Central)
48. Tanko Al-Makura (APC-Nasarawa South)
49. Uba Sani (APC-Kaduna Central)
50. Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi North)
51. Yakubu Oseni (APC-Kogi Central)
52. Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC-Taraba Central)
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The Senate in the Committee of the Whole considered and approved Clauses 1-157 as amended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedules 1&2 as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended, explanatory memorandum as recommended.

Thence, the Electoral Act No. 6 2021 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) was read the Third Time and PASSED by the senate plenary of 15th July, 2021!

When the Senate reconvened at 6:30pm after an adjournment of about two hours, Senator Olamilekan Soloman (Lagos West, APC) moved for the adoption of Votes and Proceedings of Thursday 15th July, 2021 and was seconded by Senator Akpan Bassey.

Peoples’ parliament

Memorila curated responses of Nigerians from the Nigerian Senate’s facebook thread which deliberated on the Nigerian Senate plenary of 15th July, 2021. Below are few of the comments:

Paul Alaba Adekunle Mehalayese believes the APC is repeating the mistake of the hitherto ruling party, the PDP. “Ask PDP members,” he said. “They (thought) they are going to remain in power forever and they refused to do the needful and the necessary things.”

Mehalayese concluded by saying, “We would all sit, wait and watch when some of you (the APC) will be crying and looking for whom to support you when your own mistakes is hurting and hunting you.”

On his part, Isaac Okon felt dejected by the actions of the senators who tried to disallow the insertion of a clause to permit the electronic transfer of election results in the Electoral Act (2021).

Okon wrote, “I am so disappointed at most of our representatives. The rejection of the e-transmission of elections results shows the level we still want the country to be. Imagine someone that had served as a governor for eight years and senator for 12 years saying his village does not have communication network. Is that not shameful? What has been the impacts of these representatives in their constituencies if common communication networks are not there?

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“If we can’t transmit results electronically, why use Card Readers that still use network to operate and function? It’s so sad and shameful that we don’t have Representatives, rather we have Political Party stooges.”

Eta Okon wrote, “Is it not an indictment on the minister of communications if the ‘network’ in this age in a country like Nigeria is not good enough?” asking further that, “If the network is good enough to cover NIN, and register other issues like JAMB, WAECm etc., then why can’t it be used for elections?”

For De Bull Nwankwo, he queried why there are no bipartisan engagements in the Nigerian Senate “whenever things that will favour Nigeria crops up?” He added, “Why is it that it is all about the winner takes all mentality, even when Nigeria is sinking?”

Cheta Okorafor believes the voting system of the National Assembly looks archaic and should be reviewed. “I don’t like the way the National Assembly uses voice votes to determine the support or non-support of motions in both chambers,” Okorafor said.

“Please use electronic voting systems to determine that. Nobody needs to know who voted what or not. It’s simple. All should just press a Yes or No button at the same time, the computer automatically counts the number of votes and it’s transmitted on screen. Is it that difficult?

“This shouting of aiyes and neighs like goats and horses is foolish!”

Adjournment

The Senate Leader moved that plenary be adjourned till another legislative day and was seconded by the Minority Leader.

Hence, the Nigerian Senate Plenary of 15th July, 2021 was adjourned to Tuesday, 14th September, 2021.


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