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Uproar in Senate Over Adoption of Change in Order of Election


There was an uproar Wednesday at the Senate as it passed the conference committee report on amendment to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) act.
No fewer than 10 Senators staged a walk-out in protest against the adoption of the report by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act.
The passage of the report was followed by dissenting voices calling for points of order within the chamber.
The protesters said despite the adoption of the report by the Senate, they would insist on its reversal.
The amendment to the electoral act, if approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, will uphold the change in the order of election as adopted by the lawmakers.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, had presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.
After the presentation, President of the Senate put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.
After the vote, the ‘ayes’ had it and Saraki ruled on it — a development that generated an uproar in the chamber.
Saraki also ruled against three Senators who raised points of order to protest against the adoption.
In the adopted Act, the Senate wants their election held first in 2019, before that of the state lawmakers and state governors, with the the presidential election coming last.
In 2015 and since 2003, the presidential and National Assembly polls were held first on the same day, followed by governorship and state legislative polls on the second day of the general elections.
The House of Representatives was first to, on January 23, amend the Electoral Act to change the order of the 2019 general elections.
The change recommended by the lower chamber came barely a month after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time-table for the general elections.
The lawmakers amended the Act while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters which proposed amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
In the timetable earlier released by INEC, Presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold first, while governorship and state assembly polls are to follow.
The House amended section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1).
According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.
Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties”.

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