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Fracas: House Pardons Two; Pass New Electoral Act For Second Reading

Source: SAINT MUGAGA - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, Nov 09, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives today lifted the suspension of two out of the eleven representatives suspended following the distasteful brawl in the House a few months back.

Those pardoned are Honourable Ehiogu West-Idahosa (PDP, Edo) and Gbenga Onigbogi (PDP, Osun). The pardon granted them was necessitated by adoption of the recommendations of the Ethics and Privileges Committee, led by Hon. Sani Saleh Minjibir that West-Idahosa and Onigbogi had shown remorse and should be pardoned to allow both men apologize to the entire House at plenary.

West-Idahosa and Onigbogi were among the 11 members who were suspended indefinitely following the fight that took place on the floor of the House on June 22, 2010, over allegations of corruption levelled against the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole.

The Chairman of the Ethics and Privileges Committee had submitted the report of the committee’s findings to the plenary on November 4, 2010 and when it was debated on Tuesday members accepted the recommendations and pronounced freedom for the two members.

According to the findings, the House was right in suspending the 11 members, including Idahosa and Onigbogi over their activities in bringing the integrity of the House to disrepute. In the 11-page report, Idahosa was reported to have apologized and regretted the situation leading to his suspension, while Onigbogi swore that he was far away in India on the day of the fracas.

When he appeared before the committee, Onigbogi tendered his international passport with a 3 months visa to India and evidence of discontinuance of the suit he filed to challenge his suspension. Other still serving the suspension order are Hon. Dino Melaye, Solomon Awhinawhi, Austin Nwachukwu, Abbas Anas, Gbenga Oduwaiye, Kayode Amusan, Bitrus Kaze, Independence Ogunewe and Doris Uboh.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives today defied public criticism to pass for second reading the controversial new amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Electoral Matters for further scrutiny. With the passage of the bill, all members of the National Assembly will become automatic members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of their parties. The passage of the bill followed the lead debate by the chief sponsor; Hon. C.I.D. Maduabum (PDP, Anambra), who argued that the amendment would strengthen internal democracy in the political parties. The passage was unanimous as no member raised any objection to the bill when Deputy Speaker, Hon. Usman Bayero Nafada who presided over the plenary put the question for voting.

In his lead debate on the general principles of the Bill, Maduabum said: “This bill is to amend the Electoral Act 2010. I want to start with what this bill is not. It is not a re-incarnation of the bill that was thrown out by the Senate. There is not even one clause that is taken from that bill. This bill is not designed to damage democracy in Nigeria. “The bill seeks to strengthen internal democracy in political parties. In deed item 56 of the Exclusive List of the Constitution states that the National Assembly should exercise exclusive powers in regulating political parties. Section 228 of the Constitution also gives National Assembly the powers,” he said. He noted that since political parties are the vehicles through which decisions are taken by governments, there is need to expand the frontiers of participation for robust generation and sharing of ideas.

The proposed section 87 (12) (a) says: “Every political party in Nigeria shall establish in its constitution a National Executive Committee (NEC) which shall be the highest decision making body of a political party. The membership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of a political party shall be as follows: the president and the former presidents who are members of the party; the vice president and former vice presidents who are members of the party; governors who are of the party; members of the National Assembly who are members of the party; former presiding officers of the National Assembly who are members of the party; Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, where applicable; former National Chairmen; former Chairmen, board of trustees; state chairmen of the party; zonal chairman of the party where applicable and national officers of the party.”