20 Feb 2015

House of Reps avoids debate on use of military during elections

A pending court order urging the federal government to eschew deployment of military personnel during the upcoming elections on Thursday stalled the quest by the House of Representatives to debate the matter extensively.

The House kicked against any attempt to extend the tenure of present political office holders beyond May 29, saying doing so will be tantamount to breaching the constitution.

A Federal High Court in Sokoto had decided that the matter be set aside pending its ruling.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, appealed to colleagues to seek legal counsel on the matter instead of holding a debate on it, “since it is already in a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Tambuwal who sustained the points of order raised by Hon. Karimi Sunday (PDP, Kogi) that the House cannot discuss the matter, noted that: "In view of the sensitivity of this matter and the unfolding events in the country, I want us to take this matter very seriously.

"Therefore, I would urge that the Committees on Rules and Business, Justice and Judiciary meet on this matter and come back to advise the House on it by next week."
Sunday had cited order 9 rule (7) (5), which says the House cannot comment on any matter that’s pending in court and which in the opinion of the Speaker will prejudice the judicial outcome of same.

A motion by the Minority Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) triggered the discussion.

Gbajabiamila had wanted the House to halt what he called ‘’an unconstitutional deployment of military personnel for election purposes.’’

Femi, in his motion, prayed the House to set up an ad-hoc committee that would investigate the role played by the military personnel and any other person who featured in the issue of the audio tape on Ekiti State election and report to the House within four days.

Credit: Muhammad Bello/ThisDay

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