The House of Representatives on Friday passed the harmonised version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), as well as the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The bills were, however, passed just as lawmakers from the minority caucus staged a walkout during the consideration of the bills following their perceived differences with Ahmed Idris Wase, the Deputy Speaker, who presided over plenary.
The lower legislative chamber passed both bills after the clause-by-clause consideration.
Drama, however, ensued on the floor after Wase insisted that clause 52 of the electoral amendment bill, the controversial section dealing with electronic transmission of election results, had already been determined and there was not going to be a fresh vote on it.
Clause 52(2) reads: “Voting at an election and transmission of result under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission.”
Wase had earlier on Thursday ruled that the ‘nays’ (those who supported a modification to clause 52) had it even when the ‘ayes’ (those who voted for outright electronic transmission of election results) were louder than the nays, a development that led to a commotion.
Following the recommendation of Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House, who sat with other lawmakers during the process, voting on the clause was suspended till today to hear from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on the e-transmission of election results.
After hearing from INEC and NCC officials on Friday, the lawmakers returned to consider and vote on other clauses of the bill.
Wase, however, called for a vote from clause 54, rather than on clause 52, which generated protests.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, raised a point of order to recall that the session on Thursday was halted when the consideration got to Clause 52. He also recalled that several members called for division of the House, which Wase overruled.
The Deputy Speaker, however, denied the request seeking the blocking division of the House, adding that Clause 52 had already been voted on and passed.
The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, thereafter raised another point of order asking that Clause 52 should be voted on.
Wase, however, argued that it had been voted on and the Minority Leader could only move for rescission of the vote on it, which must be approved by majority members.
Elumelu, however, argued that since Clause 52 had been considered voted, there should be no call for rescission.
The Minority Leader said since Wase would not agree, then the caucus would cease to be part of the process.
Elumelu led opposition members out of the chamber.
The Senate passed the bill on Thursday but approved that the “Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) must certify that national coverage is adequate and secure while the national assembly must approve before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can transmit election results”.
However, the House of Representatives approved that “the Commission may transmit results of election through electronic means where and when practicable”.
The opposition lawmakers were addressing journalists at the Press Centre over the Electoral bill when the House also passed the conference committee (harmonised version) of the PIB,
The House backed down from its five per cent for oil host communities and adopted the three per cent as passed by the Senate on Wednesday.