How some Senators ran to toilet to avoid electronic transmission vote

Analysts have called for the recall of lawmakers who dodge and duck during crucial votes.

Nigerian senators with Senate President Ahmad Lawan  [Tope Brown]

Dozens of senators fled to the restrooms, to the lobby or to just about everywhere else that shielded them from television and press cameras, just to avoid being in the Red Chamber where a most crucial, critical legislative vote was playing out on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

In the end, 28 senators across party lines, were absent from the Red Chamber during the vote to reform Nigeria's election processes and hand the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) powers to transmit results of elections electronically.

52 senators voted for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to first certify that nationwide coverage of the internet is guaranteed before electronic transmission of results can be carried out, thereby stripping INEC of its powers as stipulated in the constitution.

28 senators voted for electronic transmission of results, warts and all--again, across party lines--while others fled.

"Some of the lawmakers ran to the toilet. Those are the lawmakers who have cases to sort out with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). They should be investigated," says former Presidency spokesperson, ex-deputy governorship candidate in Ogun State and AriseTV news analyst, Reuben Abati.

"What happened yesterday was a coup against the Nigerian people. We may have to start recalling some members of the national assembly who abstain during critical voting periods. We can no longer tolerate this monkey business in parliament," Abati fumes.

Among the absentees were Senators Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central-APC), Adetokunbo Abiru (Lagos East-APC), Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West--PDP), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East-PDP), Stella Oduah (Anambra North--PDP), Theodore Orji (Abia Central--PDP), Bala Ibn Na'Allah (Kebbi South--APC) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North - APC).

Pulse has been told that the absentee senators conveniently excused themselves from voting by running to the convenience, just so that they aren't put on the spot by constituents and voters.

"The coup on the floor of the senate was led by APC of course, which is the political party with the majority of members in parliament, because they want to continue to rig themselves back into power in 2023 and beyond.

"They are afraid that if manual transmission and all the doctoring and manipulation that goes with it becomes history, most of them won't return to the senate," says one national assembly aide who pleaded anonymity for this story.

Nigeria's election result sheets are often riddled with alteration of figures, discrepancies and outright erasures in certain cases.

During the 2015 presidential contest, one returning officer, a university professor, needed a torchlight to reel out vote figures he had tabulated on a mangled sheet from a southern state.

Electronic transmission of results in Africa's most populous country would guarantee that election figures are a lot more credible, free from human interference and reflect the will of majority of voters, political analysts say.

One of the APC senators opposed to electronic transmission of results and who voted for the amendment that strips INEC of its powers, Ali Ndume (Borno South-APC), says he did so because he has no internet network coverage in his constituency and has to resort to the use of a Thuraya phone when he leaves Abuja for his village.

"I support the futuristic idea of electronic voting which is not realistic in my area that I represent.

"Therefore, for it to be approved, I'm hoping that there will be light and network in my local government or my state. If NCC says so, then I support it," Ndume says.

At the House of Representatives, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila (Surulere 1, Lagos--APC), abdicated responsibility and asked Deputy Speaker Idris Wase to preside over plenary and the vote on the day.

"Why would Gbajabiamila do a thing like that? And this is not the first time he's dodging. When it's a critical vote, he delegates to his deputy. He is Speaker of the House for a reason and for times like this!" says Abati.

The House adjourned voting on electronic transmission of election results to today, July 16, 2021.

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