The National Assembly will investigate the Independent National Electoral Commission, the police and the Department of State Services for crises relating to recent elections in the country, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
It was gathered on Saturday that among issues to be probed was the security advice by the police and the DSS, which led to the postponement of the September 10 governorship election in Edo State.
Investigations showed that those who would be summoned by the lawmakers included the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yabubu; the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris; and the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura.
It was learnt that the lawmakers would also investigate the roles of security agencies in the by-elections in Rivers State and other recent inconclusive polls conducted by INEC.
A senator, who confided in Sunday PUNCH, said the report of the investigation would form part of the proposed amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act.
The lawmaker stated that advice by security agencies, specifically the Office of the National Security Adviser, contributed to the shifting of the 2015 elections.
He said, “Many of us have agreed that there is the need to investigate what is going on in our electoral system. President Muhammadu Buhari will soon submit proposals for the amendment of the Electoral Act. Whatever we get from our investigations will form part of the reforms.
“We will summon the INEC management, the DG of the DSS and the police IG. We need to get to the root of the security report that led to the postponement of the poll in Edo.”
Another senator representing Abia-North Senatorial District, Mao Ohuabunwa, said that on resumption on September 20, the upper chamber would look into the postponed poll.
The senator said it was unfortunate that at the current level of development of Nigeria’s democracy, an election would be cancelled just hours after preparations had been completed.
He lamented that so much would have been spent on electioneering by the political parties and logistics by INEC.
When asked if the issue would be raised on the floor of the Senate, the senator said, “Yes, definitely.”
He added that the postponement was a national challenge which the legislature must give priority.
Ohuabunwa criticised INEC for making a U-turn on its earlier decision to continue with the conduct of the exercise after security agencies had raised the alarm.
“Honestly, it is something that we really need to review and look at the Senate and as a National Assembly. I believe that after our resumption, the National Assembly should be able to look at it and call on all institutions involved to brief the lawmakers about what happened and what went wrong,” he added.
Another PDP lawmaker representing Ekiti-South, Senator Biodun Olujimi, stated that there was no strong reason for the postponement.
She said, “It was just because the All Progressives Congress thought it was not good enough for the poll and that is not fair.”
She also dismissed claims by some Nigerians that the presidential and National Assembly elections were postponed under a Peoples Democratic Party government led by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The senator lamented that money would have been wasted as well as “the effort and the dampened spirit.”
She said, “What can the Senate do? There is the need to really look into it. We need to look into it so that subsequent governments will not just truncate elections.
“Elections are statutory arrangements. They should not be truncated at will. It must be cogent and serious for anyone to change election patterns and dates.”
On his part, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) also said that the House would investigate postponed and inconclusive elections.
In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, Ogor said, “I think it is going to be a subject matter that probably will be discussed. I am not comfortable with the modalities of INEC shifting elections.
“The number of inconclusive elections is worrisome. Look at Rivers State. It is becoming very embarrassing.
“If INEC should establish that a constitutional provision grants it independence, it is the constitution that gives it the power. It is in the interest of democracy.”