Law News
Reps row over use of soldiers for polls

Sharp divisions in the House of Representatives over the use of the military for elections led to a rowdy session on Thursday.

But, a quick intervention by the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, doused tension as the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress caucuses in the House engaged each other in a supremacy tussle.

Current numerical raking in the House shows that the APC controls around 180 members as against the PDP’s 161.

The change in number owing to a series of defections from the PDP to the APC has lately turned voting results in favour of the latter, causing tension in the House.

A motion on the propriety or otherwise of the use of the military for elections was tabled for debate when some PDP lawmakers started kicking against it.

The motion was moved by House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who argued that the military should have no role to play in elections.

Before the motion came up for debate on Thursday, he had earlier on Wednesday used the role of the military in the 2014 governorship poll in Ekiti State to buttress his opposition to the use of soldiers in providing security during elections.

He had also cited a certain “audio and video tape” on the Ekiti election in circulation on social media and told the House that these were enough reasons for Nigerians to be worried.

However, when the motion came up for debate on Thursday, some PDP members led by Mr. Sunday Karimi, kicked against it.

Karimi, who is from Kogi State, said the matter in question was in court awaiting disposal.

He sought to stop Gbajabiamila from continuing with the debate on the grounds that the House would be acting in contempt of the courts.

“Mr. Speaker, we should not go further into an issue we are all aware has yet to be decided by the courts,” he added.

But tension rose as APC lawmakers started asking Karimi to resume his seat.

They were poised to reject a point of order Karimi raised against Gbajabiamila.

There were murmurs and mild shouting from both the PDP and the APC camps as the latter insisted that the motion should be heard.

Tambuwal intervened to rescue the situation from degenerating as he quickly referred the matter to the committees on Rules/Business, Judiciary/Justice for advice.

The Speaker directed the committee to look into the legal issues raised by Karimi and advised the House on whether to proceed with the motion or not.

“In view of the sensitivity of this matter and the unfolding events in the country, we should take this motion seriously,” Tambuwal ruled and asked the committees to produce a report on Tuesday next week.

Meanwhile, the House condemned Tuesday’s political violence in Okrika, Rivers State, where gunmen disrupted a rally organised by the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Dakuku Peterside.

At least one policeman was killed and many other persons who attended the rally were injured.

Lawmakers also condemned “all forms of political violence” in the country, irrespective of the political party involved.

The resolution resulted from a motion by an APC lawmaker from Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Robinson Uwak.

The House directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, to investigate the Okrika incident and other cases of political violence in the country and bring the culprits to book.

On the speculation of a possible extension of the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan, the House re-stated its earlier stance that it would not approve tenure elongation for anybody.

The House spokesman, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, told journalists that though such a request was not before the House, it would not be entertained should an attempt be made to bring it up.

Mohammed explained that tenure extension was illegal, a reason the House would not accept it.

“Anything not in our constitution, we will not accept it.

“May 29th is sacrosanct; even Mr. President has said so several times. So, why are we worried about tenure extension?,” he said.

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