By Uche Mbah
An Abuja High court has ordered the use of open ballot for the conduct of elections into the principal offices of the National Assembly, contrary to the dictates of the Clark of the National Assembly who favors secret ballot. Secret Ballot was used in 2015.
It is believed that with open ballot, the ruling party and the Presidency will be able to influence the voting, since it is alleged by the opposition that the legislators may be psychologically intimidated by the ruling party.
With the dissolution of the 8th senate, the Clark of the National Assembly runs things until a senate president is elected.
But an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice O. A. Musa, has granted an interim injunction restraining the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the Senate and the Sergeant-At-Arms to the Senate and others from relying or enforcing the Senate standing orders 2015 (as amended) in the conduct of election of presiding officers of the Senate of the 9thAssembly, pending the determination of a suit filed by Senator Jibrin Barau.
Order 2015 as amended deals with the use of secrete ballot for election of principal officers.
The exparte order has been circulated in the social media by Oshiomhole’s Chief Press secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, having been obtained since yesterday, June 10 2019, though late.
It is not clear whether the Clark of the house has been officially served, without which the secrete ballot will still go ahead. Neither is it clear yet if the leadership of the National Assembly has approached another court of equal jurisdiction to nullify the order.
The comprehensive order reads:
“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 the June 11, 2019 and any other day pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion in this case.
“An interim order restraining the first and second 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″