The Nigerian Senate was on Wednesday thrown into a rowdy session over a request by Senator Dino Melaye to present a motion on militarisation of the just concluded general elections.
The Kogi West Senator, who got re-elected at the just concluded National Assembly elections had raised a point of order, asking his colleagues to let him bring a motion on the militarisation of the just concluded general elections for debate.
There have been outcries by local and international election observers, as well as other Nigerians against the militarisation of the presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23 and the governorship and state houses of assembly elections of March 9.
Raising the issue at the plenary of the Senate, Melaye said his point of order was not political. He told his colleagues that his motion will help curb electoral malpractices in future elections.
He said, “What I am raising this morning has nothing to do with political parties.
“I want to bring before this Senate, the elections both on the 9th and 23rd in this country and I believe that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not close our eyes to the happenings of those elections.
“I want that election to be debated on this floor. I want to bring a motion to be addressed by this Senate in the next legislative day so that the militarisation of the process, the abuses of this election, will not go undiscussed in this parliament for posterity sake.
“And so that solutions can be given and the president can also be properly advised and the electoral act be signed into law as we begin to prepare for future elections.
“This is my prayer. Let it be discussed as a Senate. We will debate and give accounts of what happened in our various senatorial districts with the vision of correcting electoral malpractices”.
In his response, Senate President Bukola Saraki put the question for a voice vote and there were loud echos of “ayes and “nays”.
Saraki then ruled that the prayer be adopted noting that the Senate’s Standing Order says only one-fifth of the lawmakers is required to support the prayer before it can be adopted.
He said “Distinguished colleagues, by the order, you only need one-fifth of the senators to support the motion. It will be taken in the next legislative day.”
In a quick reaction, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, stood up and questioned Saraki’s ruling.
He said, “A non-partisan motion was on the floor. You ruled. We didn’t hear the ruling. What was your ruling?”
At this point the Assembly chamber was getting saturated with noise.
Standing up to speak loudly in order to be heard, Senator Bala Na’Allah said there was no motion, adding that Melaye introduced himself as a “senator-elect” and so was not “speaking as a senator.”
In his efforts to calm his colleagues, the Senate President said he ruled on the motion because if brought to be debated will not be partisan.
He also said legal action will be taken where necessary and the motion will be debated at the leadership before it is placed on the order paper.
The explanation could not end the rowdiness as Senator Barau Jibrin (APC, Kano) stood up to question Mr Saraki’s ruling again.
Quoting the order of the Senate which permits a lawmaker to challenge the opinion of the Senate president/chairman, he said, “I don’t know your ruling on the motion.”
Voices began to rise again forcing Saraki to beg his colleagues not to abuse the process of the plenary.
At the end it was resolved that Melaye will lead the motion on the alleged militarisation of the just concluded general elections on Thursday.