By Shola Abayomi.
A coalition of lawmakers drawn from various political parties under the aegis of G-70 has indicted the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omolori over alleged proof of vote-buying and gross impunity.
The National Assembly Clerk, who supervised the June 11 election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives, is accused of condoning impunity.
In a statement by the spokesperson of the group, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah (PDP, Gwer West/Gwer East Federal Constituency, Benue state), the G-70 was an “apolitical group of House members across party lines who are after truth, transparency and the protection of the independence of the legislature.”
The statement reads in part, “We condemn totally, the use of any form of financial inducement and systematic coercion to compel towards choosing a leader in a manner that totally destroys the sanctity and integrity of the House and the National Assembly as a whole.
“This is what we are fighting against and we are doing it for the good of democracy and for the good of our nation.
“We believe that if President Buhari himself truly preaches and believes in transparency and anti-corruption, then he should realize what his government and what whom he supported has done to become Speaker of the House.
“We will explore every legitimate means possible to ensure that justice is done and genuine democratic norms prevail.”
The statement narrated how Gbajabiamila allegedly induced lawmakers to vote for him, stressing that the G-70 was fully equipped with relevant evidence towards ensuring that the entire exercise is nullified.
“This is the fallout of the manner in which the election of House Speaker and Deputy Speaker was conducted under an atmosphere that was rife with allegations of inducement and these have now been confirmed; for instance, we have evidence that many members were taking pictures of the ‘Members’ Green Card’ with specific serial numbers as given to those being induced to vote for Gbajabamila.
“There is verifiable photographic evidence that can be subjected to forensic analysis which clearly confirm that members were taking pictures of either the ‘Green Members’ Card’ or their respective identity cards alongside their respective ballot papers showing whom they vote for, ostensibly for the purpose of going back to receive the balance of the monies they were promised.
“From our findings, it appears that people were initially given ten thousand dollars each with a balance ranging from forty thousand dollars that was supposed to be given for voting for Gbajabiamila; the evidence is there.
“Some of our members across party lines are heading to court to demand nullification of the exercise and for the courts to declare the election null and void and to seek the prosecution of Gbajabiamila and all those members who were part of the anti-democratic conspiracy”, it stated.
The statement further berated the Clerk of the National Assembly for complicity.
“Members of the G-70 also feel deeply concerned about the involvement of the Clerk of the National Assembly in the whole exercise; because when they complained to him about members going to take pictures, he, in a very unprecedented manner, said it before national television that his own job is just to provide the secrecy of the ballot and that if the members want to compromise their votes, it is their own decision.
“We find it utterly incredible that an umpire in an election of such national and historic significance would allow votes to be compromised without trying to ensure transparency of the process and this made aggrieved members suspect that he was already compromised with the APC led government beforehand.
“This is further buttressed by the fact that the laws being used for the election clearly spelt out secret ballot; however, right in front of the Clerk of the National Assembly who was superintending the elections, so many members of the House would go and vote, only to return and display their vote at the front row, to prove to Gbajabiamila and his supporters that they voted for him.
“Unfortunately, the CNA condoned what – in the eyes of right-thinking members, constitute a flagrant violation of the laws and therefore, logically justifies being challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction because what eventually transpired made it to be no secret ballot any longer.
“Such monitoring and impunity are anti-democratic and illegal; there is also video evidence and the issues we are raising were conducted under the glare of cameras on live television, with members displaying the ‘Green Card’ openly on the floor of the House and they were seen displaying their votes.
“It was, therefore, no longer an allegation but a proven fact and various television stations had it; thus, members of the G-70 have no qualms about the justness of their cause and they are going to commence legal action in the courts immediately”, the statement empasized.