Senators will decide the voting pattern to be adopted in electing the Senate president during the inauguration of the 9th Assembly in May, Daily Trust has learnt.
Some senators-elect told Daily Trust yesterday in Abuja that they would not allow the 9th Senate to use the current “fraudulent” Senate Standing Rules in electing the presiding officers.
Prior to 2015, the election of presiding officers at the Senate had been through open ballot, where senators would be asked to divide themselves according to their preferred candidates.
However, on the morning of June 9, 2015, when the 8th Senate was to be inaugurated, a new Senate Rules surfaced, which provided that the elections of the Senate president and the deputy Senate president would be done via secret ballot.
Current Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu were elected using that Standing Rules.
After their emergence, the Federal Government filed a forgery case against Saraki, Ekweremadu and the then Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, among others.
But some senators-elect, including Ahmad Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina), said the existing rule would not be used in the election of the presiding officers in June, noting that they would decide the pattern on that day.
“First of all, as senators, we’re not going to use any existing rule. We’re under no obligation to use either the existing rules or the one before 2015. We’ll decide on the procedure and the pattern to elect the Senate president on that day
“Once we elect the Senate president, from there we’ll continue with other activities. The decision of the senators on that day is paramount. At any rate, we won’t do secret ballot. There’s nobody that will make us to use a fraudulent standing rules that is a subject of litigation.
“We have the right as members of the Senate to decide what we want. Once we have the majority supporting this, we’re good to go. If we see anything that we don’t agree with, we’ll kick against it. We won’t use the one they used in 2015 because of its fraudulent nature and the fact that there’s litigation on it,” he said.
Another senator-elect said: “We won’t support anything secret ballot on the election of the Senate president. The truth of the matter is that we are lawmakers that represent different people. We are not the electorate but representatives of the people.
“We should allow our constituents to know what we stand for on issues and not hiding under anything. In other democracies around the world such as America, whatever lawmakers vote for, it is known to everybody. Ours shouldn’t be different.”
Meanwhile, Lagos based constitutional lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana (SAN) has said that while the first sitting of the elected lawmakers shall be presided over by the Clerk of National Assembly, the established rule for electing officers of the two chambers is expected to be followed in electing leaders among them.
Falana in a telephone interview with Daily Trust correspondent in Lagos however said before the sitting of the lawmakers, there must be a proclamation by the president.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall proclaim the National Assembly. The Clerk will then preside over the first sitting of the lawmakers. He would be the one to swear them into office.
“Of course the National Assembly has its rule on how its leaders are to be elected and that is expected to be followed. And when I say they have their rule, I do not mean a forged rule,’’ Falana said.