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Published On: Tue, Oct 14th, 2014

Troops deployment: APC Reps foil plot to strip INEC of power

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  • House leaders bicker over $9.3m arms deal

By Umar Muhammad Puma

Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the House of Representatives have rejected a plot by members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to reverse decision taken in the committee of the whole to retain the clause granting exclusive powers to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to request for deployment of military personnel during elections.

The House had before yesterday passed the clause that granted INEC the exclusive powers to request for deployment of soldiers during elections by amending section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act. But some PDP members in the House yesterday tried, in vain, to get the provision expunged from the Act in a bid to deny INEC such power.

If this amendment is signed into law, deployment of military during elections can only be done with the request from INEC. After a heated debate, however, it was agreed that clause 29 in the proposed amendment to section 29 (1) of the principal act be retained.

Deputy House Leader, Rep Leo Ogor (PDP Delta), had in a motion urged the House to reconsider its earlier decision and delete section 29 of the proposed amendment out rightly to deny INEC the powers to request for deployment of armed forces.

He noted that the by provision of section 217(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic 1999 as amended, there shall be an armed forces for the federation, which functions by virtue of the section to include suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such condition as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly.

He further noted that by the provision of section 218 (1) of the constitution, the powers of the President as the Commander -in- Chief of the armed forces of the federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the federation.

Ogor’s position was countered by the minority leader, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos), who submitted that the there is no need for the motion to be read on the floor as it has already been passed by the majority members of the House.

In his ruling, the speaker of the House Aminu Waziri Tambuwal noted that he was not convinced with the explanation of the minority leader. According to him, order 9 rule 57 (6) of the House said the house cannot entertain such matter until there is proper notification to the speaker and the House. Tambuwal added that since the motion was already on the order paper, it means that the mover of the motion has notified the House.

The speaker then allowed Rep Ogor to read the motion, which was later put to vote and shot down by majority decision.

It could be recalled that the bill was referred to committee on July 8, 2014 for public hearing and the committee submitted its report on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

However, both Rep Gbajabiamila and Rep Ogor yesterday engaged each other in an open abusive language over the aborted debate on the $9.3million cash-for-arms deal which was seized by the South  African Government.

Raising a point of order on matters of privilege and personal explanation at plenary, Rep Gbajabiamila moved a motion on what he termed, “damaging editorials in the media” on a publication in respect to an interview granted by Rep Ogor in which he was alleged to have said that “WE”(the House) do not owe anybody any apologies for killing the motion which attempted to debate the circumstances surrounding the botched transaction in South Africa.

Rep Gbajabiamila while making his case said the matter bothered on the integrity and sincerity of purpose of members of the House.

Rep Gbajabiamila expressed concern over the use of the word, “WE” by Rep Ogor instead of speaking for himself, adding that Rep Ogor does not have the right to speak for the collective interest of members except for himself.

Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal having listened to Gbajabiamila, voiced concern at the Minority Leader for bringing the matter up at this stage, asking him if he had confronted Rep Ogar to ascertain if he actually granted the said interview.

Rep Ogor submitted that he had seen Rep Gnajabiamila severally but he never asked him his position on the said publication.

In order not to prolong the argument, the Speaker suspended further comment on the matter and ruled that both members see him after the plenary.

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