About the latest amendment by Senate

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It appears the Senate has bowed to pressure by reversing its earlier resolution on the electoral act.

Many Nigerians including the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been calling for electronic transmission of results.

The Senate before Tuesday had resolved that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) need to consult the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly. before getting the go-ahead.

Now, the electoral umpire is free to determine the mode of transmission of results during elections. Thus, the coming Anambra governorship election could be used as a test run.

apart from that, the red chamber also approved an amendment to the Electoral Act which provides that political parties would henceforth use only the direct mode of primaries to nominate candidates for elections.

The Senate had earlier approved a provision in the Electoral Bill that allowed parties to use either direct or indirect mode of primaries in nominating candidates for elections during primaries.

Another amendment approved by the Upper Chamber is the provision that empowers INEC to use electronic voting machines during elections.

The resolutions of the Upper Chamber followed a motion titled: “Motion for recommittal” sponsored by the Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).

In his lead debate, Abdullahi said the Senate: “Recalls that the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (Repeal and re-enactment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Observes that after critical examination of the Bill by the Senate Committee on INEC, some fundamental issues which require fresh legislative action on the following clauses – 43, 52, 63, and 87 were observed.

“Desirous of the need to address the observation by the Committee and make necessary amendments; and

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“Relying on order 1(b) and 53(6) of Senate Standing Order.

“Accordingly resolves to: Rescind its decision on the affected Clauses of the Bill as passed and re-commit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.”

Order 1(b) of the Senate Standing Orders reads: “In all cases not provided for hereinafter or by Sessional or other Orders or practice of the Senate shall by Resolution regulate its procedure.

Also, Order 53(6) of the Senate Standing Orders reads: “It shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session except upon a substantive motion for rescission.”

The approval followed an amendment to Clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill by Senator Aliyu Abdullahi (Niger North) during the consideration of a report by the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Committee’s had initially recommended in in Clause 52(3) that, “The Commission (INEC) may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

The Senate deliberated on and adopted the recommendations contained in a Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Bill 2021, No. 6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, (SB.122).”

The Senate amended Clause 52(2) of the Electoral Bill to read that: “Subject to section 63 of this Bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting.

Clause 63 (5) of the amended Bill reads: “The Presiding Officer shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.”

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The Senate said that “the amendment will address the concern that informed the initial draft on possible disenfranchisement and security of results.

“The amendment is tied the section 63 which provide safeguards that authentic results must be counted, entered into forms, signed by Presiding Officers and announced at the polling units before transfer or transmission, as the case may be.”

Clause 87(1) of the Bill which deals with nominations of candidate by parties, was amended by the Senate to read that “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission”.

The Senate remarked that the amendment to clause 87(1) “is necessitated by the need to specifically provide for adoption of direct primary because it is more conducive to inclusiveness and transparency.”

The Senate also inserted new clause 87(3-7) which reads: “87(3) The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions by direct primaries shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and given opportunity to have agents for the purposes of monitoring the primaries.

“87(4) The procedure adopted for the direct primaries shall be spelt out in a guideline to be issued by the political party and filed with the Commission’s at least 14 days before the primary election.

“87(5) A political party shall maintain register of its members and provide in the guideline for the conduct of the primaries that the register of its members shall be used for accreditation for the primaries.

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“87(6) The Commission shall deploy personnel to monitor the primaries in all the centers where the direct primaries are held.

“87(7) Every aspirant cleared by the party to contest at the primary shall be entitled to a copy of the guidelines for the conduct of the primaries in which he or she is participating.”

The Senate also amended Clause 43 of the Bill to provide for use of ballot boxes and electronic voting machine by INEC during elections.

Clause 43(1-3) as amended reads: “(1) The Commission shall provide suitable boxes, electronic voting machine or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.

“(2) The forms to be used for the conduct of elections to the offices mentioned in this Bill shall be determined by the Commission

“(3) The Polling Agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials, electronic voting machine and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.”

Thus, if this is assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, it becomes a law and could have a massive effect in the coming elections.

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