By Olaotan Falode
The House of Representatives Minority caucus has explained why it walked out during consideration of Electoral Amendment bill on Friday.
Addressing newsmen after leading some members of the minority caucus to stage a walk out, Minority Leader Hon Ndudi Elumelu alleged that the House had discountenanced agitation of Nigerians to allow transparency in 2023 general elections.
Elumelu, who described the entire process as fake, said they had to walk out of the plenary because they did not want to be party to depriving Nigerians their right for results being counted accurately because e-transmission will guard against rigging.
He said: “The Nigerian people voted us to represent their interest. And in this Electoral Act, we started very well. When it got to Clause 52 sub 2, which talks about electronic transmission of results, the Deputy Minority Leader moved an amendment.
“In his amendment, he posited that for the next election, result should be done through electronic transmission. The chairman seating (Deputy Speaker Wase) refused to listen to the amendment.
“The Speaker tried to intervene and when we could not reach an agreement, we had to adjourn and decision was reached by the House that we should invite the INEC and NCC to talk about their ability to ensure that our results are transmitted electronically all over the country.
“But to our greatest surprise, upon resumption this morning, we found out that INEC was asked to stay back. We tried to inquire why and they told us that it’s because they do not want to be seen to be biased.
“For NCC, they asked the Executive Vice Chairman not to show up and instead asked somebody in capacity of a Director to show up. Even the Director himself couldn’t even substantiate issues and while making his submission, we couldn’t be heard.
“We went on when the Speaker suggested that we step down clause 52, to consider other clauses after which we will come back to clause 52.
“Having done that, he was now trying to add that they move a motion for us to go back to plenary and report progress and that resulted in us through me standing up to ask the Chairman if we are not going to go back to that clause 52.
“In our opinion, that clause 52(2) has not been taken let alone asking us to apply the rules of the House which states that we should come by way of rescission.
“If you do that, it means you’re saying that ab initio, it has been carried and we said no because abinitio, it has not been carried which was why we suspended further consideration of the bill on Thursday.
“But he refused and said it has been carried. So, we had no other choice than to say we cannot be part of that fake process where they’re depriving Nigerians of their right for their results to be counted accurately because e-transmission will guard against rigging and votes can count.
“But what they’ve done is to discountenance our agitations that let there be transparency in the next conduct of our elections”.
Hon Mark Gbillah said: “First and foremost, you talk about 3G and 2G and LTE which he failed to mention. These are technologies that have to do with transmission by the Internet or broadband. Now transmission of results does not have to be by broadband.
“I am surprised that somebody who is supposed to be a professional in the NCC does not know that difference. This USSD functions that we use just uses GSM network and that is all that we need. Like text messages that is all required to transmit results.
“We do not need internet service and we have more than 90 percent coverage of that. If in 2018, only 8, 000 units were not covered. By now, it is obvious that the telecoms operators on their own have covered it and if they say the operators have not covered it USPF has enough funds and as a professional in six months is all it takes to cover 8000 polling units.
“So there is absolutely no excuse for them to say that we cannot deploy or transmit results electronically. And I challenge the EVC of NCC to a public debate. I will personally be there to provide technical explanation and proof of what I am saying”.
Hon Stanley Adediji said walking out of the proceeding was their way of showing how disappointed they were in the presiding officer and Deputy Speaker Idris Wase.
He said: “When we are talking about simple light data, it can go over any frequency. That is not arguable. The fact that they are telling us to inform us that they can only use 3G or 4G is false information.
“Also, we have satellite communication which could be a back-up that we can use for areas that there are no coverage if three any.
“By walking out it clearly shows that we are disappointed in the action of the chairman of the Committee of the Whole and the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase.
“Secondly, this has nothing to do with Minority caucus alone, because Rep Faleke also brought an amendment in agreement to our belief that results should be electronically transmitted.
“So we are disappointed totally. We are not hiding it. The Deputy Speaker arrested the rules of the House and the constitutional provisions of fair hearing and the right to express yourself.”