Voting Buying And Selling At NASS Election:  Clerk Should Not Be Blame For It – VATLAD

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The group, Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), has come in defence of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori over alleged votes selling and buying during the just concluded 9th National Assembly leadership elections.

VATLAD, a non governmental organization said that there was actually electoral malpractice during the exercise but the Clerk tried his best to stop senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect who were busy snapping pictures of how they voted in an open-secret ballot system of voting.

In a statement by its National President, Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel on Thursday, VATLAD urged the aggrieved members of NASS who are calling for the head of the Clerk to approach the courts for a redress.

The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to reported ongoing disturbing allegations by some members of the 9th National Assembly against the Clerk of the National Assembly (Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori) who they accused of allowing and condoning Votes selling and buying, and election malpractices at the National Assembly during the recent elections of the Principal Officers.

“While we agree that these electoral malpractices sadly occured in the full view of the whole world, at both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which we strongly condemn, we however do not agree that the Clerk of the National Assembly was responsible for and allowed these to happen.

“Instead, we highly commend the Clerk of the National Assembly who displayed uncommon courage and high sense of patriotism when he opposed attempts by some Senators and members to force him to adopt Open Voting system that obviously was to enable them undermine the credibility and integrity of the elections and pave the way for votes selling and buying.

“Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori (Clerk of the National Assembly) vehemently refused to yield to this and insisted on the Open-Secret Voting in line with the Standing Order of the National Assembly and in line with globally acceptable practice of protecting the secrecy of Ballots during elections.

“We recall that some Senators and House of Representatives members had allegedly obtained a Court Order on the eve of these Elections to compel the Clerk of NASS to adopt Open Voting System meant to pave way for Votes Buying and other malpractices.

“Even after the Clerk succeeded in conducting the elections using Open-Secret Voting system, some Senators and House of Representatives members-elect shamelessly went about casting their votes and displaying them openly to the Senators and Members and their Agents vying for Principal Offices in the elections.

“Some of these Senators and members even went beyond this act of national disgrace to use their phones to take photographs of their ballots to show who they voted for. This is clear votes selling and buying.

“All attempts by the Clerk of the National Assembly to caution them against these fraudulent acts fell on deaf ears and given their desperation to go on with these acts, he reluctantly and grudgely allowed them to do as they wish while putting on record that he insisted on open-secret voting.

“What else do the aggrieved members-elect expect the Clerk to do? Do they expect him to annul the process and nullify the elections?

“Is there any section of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, and or the Standing Order of the National Assembly which give(s) the Clerk of the National Assembly power to do so?

“If any member of the National Assembly feels so aggrieved about these electoral malpractices, such member or members should approach the Court of Law to seek redress.

“In conclusion, we hasten to add that these shameful act by these members of the 9th National Assembly now places heavy moral and integrity burden on the National Assembly as it concerns their expected constitutional duty to make law for Credible, Free and Fair Elections in Nigeria, particularly coming at a time when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had done very well to try to put an end to votes selling and buying during Ekiti, Osun and 2019 General Elections.

“This 9th National Assembly also now has a constitutional duty to tender unreserved public apology to Nigerians for these act of shame they exhibited on June 11, 2019”.