The House of Representatives was on Thursday forced to adjourn after it erupted in rowdiness following disagreement among the members over some sections of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila announced adjournment of proceedings till 10 am on Friday to continue with the consideration of the bill.
Proceedings of the House became rowdy earlier in the morning while it was considering sections of the bill at the Committee of the Whole statutorily chaired by Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (APC, Plateau).
When the committee resumed the clause by clause consideration of the report on the bill later in the day, disagreement broke out again over Section 52 (2) of the bill.
The section deals with the transmission of the election results.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechuwkwu (PDP, Enugu), had moved a motion for the amendment to section that “transmission of results shall be done electronically.”
But Mr Wase responded that those without network coverage would be disenfranchised.
‘I make bold to say that only less than 20 percent of my constituency has network coverage.”
The deputy whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), seconded the motion.
When the motion was put to vote by Mr Wase, the “ayes” was loud, however, he ruled that the “nays” had it.
The ruling led to a rowdy session as members protested it.
It appears that the transmission of results has divided the ruling APC. As some members of the APC like Mrs Onyejeocha also joined the protest.
When the chamber became calm after the rowdy session, Mr Wase claimed that a lawmaker came to insult him.
“We have legal rights to canvass issues and lobby each other. I take exception to those who came here to insult me.
“As parliamentarians, we should conduct ourselves in a language befitting of lawmakers. I am the chair of this committee by the grace of God with your support; no need to insult me. It will not do anyone any good. Anybody can review the audio for him/herself.
“What happens to our brothers in Maiduguri, Yobe where masts are down,” he said.
He was once again interrupted by members of the House.
James Faleke (APC, Lagos) moved an amendment for the section to read that “election results may be transmitted both electronically and manually.”
Reacting to the motion, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), argued that there is a substantive motion yet to be ruled on and then moved that the House should be divided for voting.
In a bid to calm things down, the Speaker, Mr Gbajabiamila, who was on the floor of the House, said the Chairman (Mr Wase) should accommodate as many amendments as possible.
He said “those who want electronic transmission cannot impose it on those who want manual, and those who want manual cannot impose it on those who want electronic voting.”
He stated further that the chairman was yet to finally rule on the motion, adding that the amendment by Mr Faleke was consistent.
The majority leader, Hassan Dogwa (APC, Kano), said Mr Gbajabiamila was wrong in his interpretation, that issues disposed of by the House cannot be revisited.
However, the amendment by Mr Faleke was seconded by Wale Raji (APC, Lagos).
Once again, in the voice vote, the “ayes” had it, but Mr Wase ruled that the “nays” had it.
This ruling threw the House in another pandemonium.
Following the rowdy session, Mr Wase reverted to plenary and attempted to report progress, claiming that section 52 was adopted at the Committee of the Whole.
This also generated protests from members.
At this point, Mr Gbajabiamila took over as Speaker and directed the adjournment of the House.
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