By Abdallah el-Kurebe
#TrackNigeria: A new group identified as G-70 at the House of Representatives has emerged challenging the victory of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker on the allegation of vote-buying.
The group also alleges gross condonment of impunity by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omolori who supervised the June 11 election of the two principal officers.
Members of the group, who are said to be drawn from various parties, are now heading to court.
According to the spokesman of the new group, Honourable Mark Terseer Gbillah (PDP, Gwer West/Gwer East Federal Constituency, Benue state), G-70 is an apolitical group of House members across party lines who are after truth, transparency and the protection of the independence of the legislature.
Making references to photographic images and video evidence being released to back up their claims, Gbillah asserted that they are only embarking on a principled struggle, adding that while the members have no personal grudges against any person or political party, they will not condone any illegitimacy in the election of the person or persons who will lead the House of Representatives.
“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,” Hon Gbillah stated.
Alleging the prevalence of anti-democratic tendencies, impunity and vote-buying in the voting exercise that took place in the House of Representatives on June 11, he said that the newly-formed G-70 group of House members is seeking the nullification of the purported victory of Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon Ahmed Wase, adding that they are determined to tender relevant evidence towards ensuring that the entire exercise is nullified.
Emphasizing that the voting process confirmed previous alarm raised about likely buying of votes on a massive scale, he said that the G-70 is heading to court immediately to seek legal redress for what he described as an affront against democracy and the law.
“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.
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 a transparency of the process and this made aggrieved members to suspect that he was already compromised with the APC led government beforehand, he stated.
According to the Honourable member, the issue has gone beyond conjectures as concrete evidence of how the entire exercise was compromised can now be tabled before the courts.
“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,” Honourable Mark Gbillah stressed.