Thursday, 21 March 2019

Senate Divided Over Army's Participation In 2019 Election

The Senate amidst a rowdy session on Wednesday condemned the alleged use of the military in the conduct of the 2019 elections.

This followed a motion by the Peoples Democratic Party member representing Kogi West in the chamber, Senator Dino Melaye, who chronicled infractions allegedly perpetrated by the military during the elections.

The red chamber also directed the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission to investigate all the perceived inconsistent application of electoral laws by the commission in the 2019 polls.

It also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the recent amendment to the Electoral Act to guarantee free and fair polls in the country.

The senators noted that the action would not only ensure a level playing field and adoption of equal standard for all in the nation’s elections, it would also strengthen the country’s democracy.

An additional prayer by Senator Kabir Marafa demanding the composition of a Senate ad hoc committee to look into the issues raised was rejected because no senator seconded it.

The APC senators made frantic efforts to shut down the adoption of the motion but their colleagues in the opposition PDP had their way.

 Melaye, who had lamented that some soldiers allegedly killed many people, including lecturers and youth corps members, noted that the situation would get worse if the Senate refused to act on it.

He claimed that one of the security aides to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, allegedly harassed and arrested  a former governor of Kogi State and some serving federal lawmakers.

The motion partly read, “Conscious of the need to grow our democracy through the institutionalisation of procedures, there should be application of civil laws and the restriction of excessive use of military force in the civil affairs of the state.

“The Senate is aware of the growing militarisation of our nation’s electoral process and the inconsistent application of electoral laws by INEC especially as witnessed in the 2019 national elections.

“The Senate is concerned that this extreme militarisation of a democratic electoral process and the inconsistent application of electoral laws by INEC in matters of national elections pose serious threats to our democracy and has security implications that must be nipped in the bud.”

The Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “As a parliament, it is our responsibility to review what happened and see the type of legislative and administrative interventions that should be taken to arrest the situation.”

The Minority Leader, Abiodun Olujimi, noted that Melaye aptly captured the real situation during the last elections, stressing the need for the parliament to investigate it.

She said, “The last general election is not an improvement on the 2015 election but has worsened the electoral process.”

But Lawan urged the Senate to ignore the motion, adding that those dissatisfied with the conduct of the polls should go to court.

Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the session, expressed the hope that the Federal Government would put necessary machinery in motion to address all the issues raised in the motion.

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