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9th NASS: Fresh twist as court orders open ballot system

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—Indications emerged, last night, that the 9th National Assembly may be in for a stormy session, today, as an Abuja High Court sitting at Bwari reportedly issued an interim order for the use of open ballot system in the election of presiding officers of the incoming Senate.

NFIU, Senate, Local Government

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The court, presided by Justice Othman Musa, was said to have upon an ex-parte application and affidavit filed by a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Jibrin Barau, granted an interim injunction restraining Clerks of the National Assembly, that of the Senate, as well as the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Senate, from relying or enforcing the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended), in the conduct of election of presiding officers of the Senate, pending the determination of a substantive suit before it.

The order supposedly followed a motion marked Motion NO M/266/2019, which was anchored on Suit No. FCT/HC/BW/CV/136/2019.

The court was said to have issued, “An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents and each of them, whether by themselves, servants or agents or otherwise from further using, relying or enforcing the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) for the purposes of conducting any legislative business or affairs in the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including but not limited to the election of presiding officers of the Senate to commence on June 11, 2019 and any other day pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion in this case.

“An interim order restraining the 1st & 2nd respondents and each of them whether by themselves or otherwise not to use any other Senate Standing Orders for the inauguration of the 9th Assembly whatsoever, including but limited to the election of presiding officers of the Senate on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 and any other day except the Senate Standing Orders 2011 (as amended) by the Senate on May 24, 2011.”

Justice Musa was quoted as ruling that, “As the order was heard and made ex-parte, any party aggrieved shall file a motion to set aside or vacate the said order and serve same on the applicant or counsel before the next adjourned date.”

The case was subsequently adjourned to June 13 for definite hearing.

Effort to confirm authenticity of the orders proved abortive at press time.

Meanwhile, it will be recalled that some lawmakers, especially those from the fold of the ruling party, had kicked against the adoption of the 2015 Standing Orders that led to the emergence of the former Senate President and his deputy, Dr. Bukola Sarako and Ike Ekweremadu, respectively, against the wish of APC.

It was alleged that the former leadership of the Senate smuggled in the use of secret ballot mode for voting without the approval of members of the Senate.

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