Senators-elect push for open ballot system to pick presiding officers

Senators-elect push for open ballot system to pick presiding officers

- Some senators-elect are pushing for the adoption of Standing Rules 2011 for the election of new principal officers in the Senate

- The senators-elect said since Senate Standing Orders 2015 was allegedly forged, there is no basis to use it

- Although, the police report on the investigation into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 is still pending

A report by The Nation indicates that some senators-elect are pushing for the adoption of Standing Rules 2011 for the election of new principal officers in the Nigerian Senate.

The Standing Rules 2011 is the use of open ballot system for the election of new officers in the upper chambers.

The senators-elect said since Senate Standing Orders 2015 was allegedly forged, there is no basis to use it.

Although, the police report on the investigation into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 is still pending.

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It was learnt that the report was kept in the cooler because of the search for “a political solution” to the crisis.

But the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mallam Mohammed Sani-Omolori, has distributed a copy of the controversial Senate Standing Orders 2015 to senators-elect. Most of them have been meeting on the need to reject the Senate Standing Rules 2015.

It was gathered that in one of the meetings, the legal advice presented to the session indicated that only Standing Rules 2011 could be regarded as valid.

A ranking senator said: “The Standing Rules 2015 was an illegal document because all the procedures for amending the 2011 rules were not followed. The document was foisted on senators; there was no anywhere we sat to alter the rules book.

“The Standing Rules was forged to pave the way for the election of principal officers by secret ballot.

“You will recall that the forgery of the 2015 rules is still the subject of an investigation by the police. The report of AIG Ali Amodu’s investigative committee is yet to be considered by the government because some public officers were indicted.

“When the senators-elect met, we decided that the best option for the Ninth Senate is to adopt the 2011 Standing Rules to elect our new principal officers. The 2011 Standing Rules Policy allows open ballot system for the election of new officers.”

Another senator quoted in the report said: “Although the Clerk to the National Assembly, Omolori, has distributed the 2015 Standing Rules to senators-elect, we are not bound by it because it is an illegal document.

“We have been meeting with our colleagues on the need to adopt the 2011 Standing Rules. We hope that we will be able to build consensus on this.”

Another said: “We prefer to adopt 2011 Standing Rules for the election of our principal officers instead of the controversial 2015 Standing Orders.

“If you look at the antecedents of 2015 Rules, it will create more division for the Ninth Senate. We do not want to start on a controversial note.”

Meanwhile, some senators-elect have vehemently kicked against alleged plans to reintroduce Open Voting Pattern (OVP) in the election of 9th National Assembly leadership.

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The federal lawmakers mostly from the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the option of open voting was contrary to the open-secret system contained in the 2015 version of the Senate rule book.

The senators say the secret ballot system is in line with international best practices in many developed countries.

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