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Activists kick against secret balloting for Ninth National Assembly leadership


National Assembly in session

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists yesterday stormed the National Assembly complex opposing alleged moves to elect the leaderships of the Ninth Senate and House of Representatives through a secret ballot system.Under the aegis of Advocates for Governance, the protesters brandished banners and posters with various inscriptions, including “Nigerians4openNASS voting,” “Why vote secretly?” No to Senators forgery”, to register their opposition.

The group’s spokesperson, Mr. Duro Meseko, maintained that only the open ballot or a voice vote process that could get the incoming presiding officers the confidence of Nigerians. He recalled that but for this same module, the purported third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo would not have been aborted.

Submitting their petition to Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the agitators called on all members-elect to be vigilant and defend the interest of their constituents by ensuring that the next crop of leaders emerge through a very transparent process.However, there was palpable apprehension among a section of the House of Representatives yesterday after members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (also known as the Shiites) stormed the building.

The aggrieved Shiites, who chanted “Allahu Akbar”, barricaded the main entrance between 11:30a.m. and about 2:30p.m., fulminating over the continued detention of their 68-year-old leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, his wife and others.The development forced the Deputy Speaker, Sulaimon Yussuff Lasun, who presided over the plenary, to deploy the sergeant-at-arms to inquire if the sect members had invaded to disrupt proceedings but the response turned out negative.

The protesters, who conducted themselves peaceably, however, succeeded in forcing lawmakers and visitors to gain access into the premises through the gates of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) office and the Presidential Villa.Their spokesperson, Malam Abdullahi Mohammed Musa, enjoined the legislators to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to release their leaders who have been held for 1,224 days in defiance of court orders.

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