The Abia League Professional Initiative (ALPI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) initiative has written query letters to Senators Orji Kalu and Theodore Orji, who are both representing Abia North and Abia Central Senatorial Districts respectively over their voting pattern on the recently passed electoral amendment bill by the National Assembly.
The group, which was established with the aim to contribute to the socio-economic development of Abia State, in a letter addressed to Senator Kalu demanded an explanation from him on the reasons he voted against the electronic transmission of results provisions as contained in the electoral act amendment bill, 2021 in Senate.
Similarly, the group in its letter addressed to Orji asked him to explain why he absented himself from the Senate “on a day that he was aware that such a crucial decision was to be taken.”
Recall the Senate passed the electoral act amendment bill, 2021 recently, amid a rowdy session, following disagreement among Senators over a clause that borders on the electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate rephrased the section 52 of the bill following the rejection of the electronic transmission of results by majority of All Progressive Congress (APC) senators.
This generated into heated argument and chaos as lawmakers argued for and against the electronic transmission of results clause. The rowdiness lasted for over 15 minutes after which the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called for an executive session.
When the lawmakers returned, Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe called for a division citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rule.
This rule allows for individual voting on an issue if senators disagree with the ruling of the Senate President.
The Senators were called upon one after the order and asked to vote verbally.
At the end of the exercise, 52 senators, mostly from the APC fold voted that NCC and the National Assembly should determine where and when electronic transmission of results will be used and subject to the approval of the National Assembly.
28 senators voted against it, while 28 other senators were absent during the voting process.
Kalu who was elected under the platform the APC was also part of the lawmakers that voted against electronic transmission of results, while Orji was among the 28 senators absent during plenary.
Reacting, the ALPI criticised the action of the two Abia lawmakers for not representing the interest of their constituents who voted them. The group described their action as an “embarrassment and a disservice” to their constituents.
The group further threatened to hold the senators accountable in the most effective way, should they fail to give a response or a satisfactory response to their letter.
This was contained in a letter addressed to the senators and made available to The New Diplomat.
The group also commended Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe who represents Abia South for his courage to stand for the yearnings of his constituents in Abia.
The letter addressed to Orji partly reads, “We, the Abia League of Professional Initiatives, wish to condemn in the strongest terms, the evident thwarting of the will of your constituents in Abia Central Senatorial Zone and indeed the will of the constituents of the other Senatorial Zones by the decision of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the use of electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral (Amendment) Bill. The Senate’s decision can properly be seen as an anticipatory compromise of the electoral process, which is the bedrock of our representative democracy.
“We are particularly dismayed that media reports indicate that you were absent from the Senate Chambers when this crucial vote was called. Given the scale of the public outcry against the impending passage of this provision in the Electoral Act, we consider your absence to be an egregious shirking of your responsibility and a dereliction of your duties as the representative of the people of Abia Central Senatorial Zone, whose voices were effectively silenced by your absence.”
The list of the members of the ALPI who endorsed the letters addressed to the three Senators representing the three Abia Senatorial Zones are; Chairman, ALPI, Senator IOS Nwachukwu; Convener of the group, Sonny Iroche; Secretarty, ALPI, Udochi Iheanacho; Sir Ogala Osoka; Chf Onyema Ugochukwu; Lady Wadibia Anyanwu; Theo Ohiagu; Uche Amajor; Acho Onukwubiri; Ada Ogbuagu-Winkina; Adindu Ezeocha; Aham Onyike; Alex Otti; Anya O Anya, among others 115 members.