Opposition Lawmakers Stage Walkout Over Electoral Act Amendment Bill

 

Opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives have staged a walk-out over clause 52 of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

They insist that the clause was never carried.

They also insist that they will disrupt the proceedings when the House resumes from recess.

The new amendment provides that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may consider electronic transmission so far as the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.

But as the debate over the passing of the bill intensifies, members of the House have yet to reach an agreement.

On Thursday, the representatives had also gone into a rowdy session after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against the electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.

Subsequently, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, adjourned the session and announced that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NCC would be present on Friday to give further clarifications on the Electoral Act with a major focus on section 52(3).

The Executive Commissioner of the NCC, Adeleke Adewolu, told the lawmakers that while concerns over the electronic transmission of results are genuine, no system can guarantee a 100 per cent shield from hacking.

The NCC boss also stated that elections results can only be transmitted by a 3G network, noting that 50 per cent of the country has 3G coverage.

He, however, explained that for areas without such coverage, poll results can be recorded and thereafter uploaded in places where there is a network. But Adeleke admitted that this cannot be compared with the real-time upload.

Another rowdy session broke out afterwards.

Reps Continue Debate Over Electoral Act Amendment Bill

 

The House of Representatives has continued its debate on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, following the inability of members to reach an agreement on Thursday.

The House had gone into a rowdy session after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against the electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.

Subsequently, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, announced that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NCC would be present on Friday to give further clarifications on the Electoral Act with a major focus on section 52(3).

The Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has now been admitted into the chamber.

More to follow.

Senators Vote Along Party Lines Over Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate.

 

Senators on Thursday voted publicly over section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, which deals with electronic transmission of results.

The lawmakers voted along party lines, Channels Television observed.

The public voting was called for by Senate minority leader Enyinnanya Abaribe after the chambers was plunged into a rowdy session as lawmakers contested the amendment of the section.

According to Abaribe, the process would allow Nigerians know who is voting for what.

The new amendment, which was sought by Senator Sabi Abdullahi from Niger state and seconded by Senator Ali Ndume, suggested that INEC may consider electronic transmission so far the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.

The controversial amendment sharply divided lawmakers, plunging the session into a rowdy one.

The Senate President Ahmed Lawan was unable to bring the chamber back to order, forcing the Senate to go into a closed-door session.

After the senate ended its closed-door session, Abaribe called for a division challenging the Senate President’s ruling on the session.

Abaribe Challenges Senate President Over Electronic Transmission Of Results

A file photo of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
A file photo of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.

 

Senate minority leader Enyinnaya Abaribe on Thursday called for a division challenging the Senate President’s ruling on section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, which deals with electronic transmission of results.

The Senate had been plunged into a rowdy session as lawmakers contested the amendment of the section, which removed the powers of INEC to determine the use of electronic transmission of results.

The new amendment, which was sought by Senator Sabi Abdullahi from Niger state and seconded by Senator Ali Ndume, provided that INEC may consider electronic transmission so far the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by Nigeria Communication Commission and approved by the National Assembly.

The controversial amendment sharply divided lawmakers, plunging the session into a rowdy one.

The Senate President Ahmed Lawan was unable to bring the chamber back to order, forcing the Senate to go into a closed-door session.

After the senate ended its closed-door session, Abaribe called for a division challenging the Senate President’s ruling on the session.

According to Abaribe, the division would allow Nigerians know who is voting for what.

A division means each lawmaker will vote publicly on the clause on electronic transmission.

NASS Will Pass Electoral Act Amendment Bill By Q1 2021 – Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Senate President Ahmad Lawan has assured that the National Assembly will pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by the first quarter of 2021.

Lawan gave the assurance on Wednesday at a public hearing on the repeal of the Electoral Act 2010 and enactment of the 2020 Electoral Act.

Senator Lawan at the public hearing said the National Assembly will work to make this possible so that the amended 2020 Electoral Act will be tested in early elections to gauge its effectiveness.

READ ALSO: PIB, Electoral Act Amendment Bill Scale Second Reading In House

In his contribution at the hearing, former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who has chaired previous amendments of the electoral act wants the amendment of electronic voting to be expanded to include electronic transmission of votes.

After a series of deliberations on the bill, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, last month, scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila however pointed out that electronic voting may fail in rural areas and the votes of the people there must be made to count.

PIB, Electoral Act Amendment Bill Scale Second Reading In House

Members of the House of Representatives attend a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The much-expected Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill have scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

Both important pieces of legislation were passed by the lawmakers after they were read for the second time during Tuesday’s plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

Leading the debate, the Leader of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, noted that the PIB has been a very important piece of legislation that has been in the works since the Fifth Assembly.

He was, however, hopeful that the 9th Assembly would be able to make the history that has eluded the Nigerian people.

READ ALSO: How Nigeria Will Become A Net Exporter Of Petrol, Others – Buhari

The lawmaker stated that the bill was presented to the Presidency for assent to be granted but that was not the case.

He praised the vision of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who engaged the Presidency to ensure it succeeded this time.

In his contribution, the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Musa Adar, stated that the PIB came at a time when Nigeria cannot afford to lose scarce resources, especially as a direct fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He believes with the discovery of oil in different African countries, Nigeria needs to develop an oil sector that will ensure maximum profitability which will create wealth for the nation and its people.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, presides over plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The lawmaker added that this would reduce the agitation and unrest in parts of the sparked by what he termed social inequality.

On his part, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, stated that the PIB was long overdue as it sought to institutionalise good governance, ease of doing business, as well as the expunging of sharp practices in the oil sector.

”The world is looking to go green in less than 20 years… and it makes it pertinent for Nigeria to gain maximally from the oil sector and look to explore other oil products before petroleum goes obsolete as a commodity,” he said.

 

Amending The Electoral Act

After a series of deliberations on the bill, it passed the second reading and was referred to the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House on PIB for further legislative scrutiny.

Thereafter, Aishatu Dukku from Gombe State moved a motion for the second reading of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and it was seconded by her colleague from Akwa Ibom State, Onofiok Luke.

Dukku informed the House that the amendment of the bill became necessary to address the anomalies in the nation’s electoral system.

The Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, on her part, was worried that 48 hours might be too short for political parties to substitute a candidate who died in a bye-election with a credibly vetted replacement.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, with some lawmakers at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

In his response, Speaker Gbajabiamila gave an assurance that the section of the replacement in the bill would be looked into.

While another lawmaker, Muhammad Wudil, requested an explicit explanation of the time needed to elapse for the cancellation of elections at any given poll when a card reader failed to work, Robert Tyough called for the use of proper technology in the conduct of elections to reduce human errors.

For Olumide Osoba, there should be a distinction between the roles played by parties, agents, candidates, and the electorate, while Onofiok called for the strengthening of electronic voting and the cancellation of over-voting results.

However, Speaker Gbajabiamila stated that electronic voting may fail in rural areas and the votes of the people there must be made to count.

Like the PIB, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was voted for and passed the second reading.

It was also referred to the House Committee on Electoral Amendments for further action.

Why Buhari Refused To Sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill – Presidency

The Presidency on Thursday said President Muhammadu Buhari did not sign the Electoral Amendment Bill because doing so might cause confusion and lead to anarchy.   

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, said this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television Breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He also disclosed that the President did not consult the other 91 political parties before refusing to sign the electoral bill because he needed to act in the best interest of the nation.

READ ALSO: 2019: Hardwork, Loyalty Will Be Rewarded This Time – Buhari

“Now, let me get to the other issue that Mr President alluded to, in not assenting to the bill. It is getting too close to election time and it will be dangerous to bring in a new electoral law at this time when the process of election has commenced from August, September, October this year. If you come to conclusion under a new law. It will cause confusion and may lead to anarchy.

“I think that what the President is to do is to take the best of discretion and from his vantage point as President of the country, to look at international best practices,” he said.

Various political parties and public interest groups have criticised the President for refusing to sign the bill.

The presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Obiageli Ezekwesili described Buhari’s rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as an assault on the country’s democracy.

Also, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar urged President Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

Atiku made the call on Wednesday in Abuja while signing the peace accord initiated by the National Peace Committee

2019: Atiku Asks Buhari To Sign Electoral Act Amendment Bill

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

Atiku made this call in Abuja while signing the peace accord initiated by the National Peace Committee.

The PDP presidential candidate applauded President Buhari’s decision to sign the peace treaty.

However, he was unhappy that President Buhari declined to sign the Bill which was recently passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He said, “I am delighted that Mr President has agreed to sign this peace accord, but we want to appeal to him to also sign the electoral act amendment bill.

“Mr President needs to understand that as long as he refuses to sign this bill, we will have doubts that this government is truly committed to a free fair and credible elections.”

Similarly, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili called on President Buhari to append his signature to the passing into law of the electoral act amendment bill.

Ezekwesili, the Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, made the call while signing the peace accord in Abuja on Wednesday.

She said, “The first thing that the President needs to do in order to build trust amongst all candidates in the election is to sign the electoral amendment bill 2018 into an act”.

The ACPN presidential candidate had previously condemned the President’s decision to decline assent to the Bill.

President Muhammadu Buhari had refused to sign the bill last week on the grounds that it would cause confusion if it becomes law and is used for the 2019 elections.

The President stated that and other reasons for his decision in letters sent to the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly.

Reps Prevented From Reacting To Buhari’s Decline Of Assent To Electoral Act Amendment Bill

Ogun Governorship Aspirant, Three Rep Members Dump APC, PDP
A file photo of lawmakers during a plenary at the House of Representatives.

 

Members of the House of Representatives have been prevented from reacting to the president’s letter declining assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The house leader, representative Femi Gbajabiamila raised a point of order preventing a reaction to the president’s letter, which was read by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

Gbajabiamila cited history that there had never been a reaction to a letter from the presidency.

He, therefore, asked members who felt the need to react to the president’ s decision to do so in the form of a motion.

Thereafter, Dogara, aligned with the position of the leader of the House.

Lawmakers were heard grumbling and suggesting that the issue be raised tomorrow (Wednesday).

Buhari’s Rejection Of Electoral Bill ‘An Assault On Our Democracy’, Ezekwesili

The Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili, says the latest rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari is an assault on the country’s democracy.

At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Ezekwesili called on the President to rescind his decision, warning that it was capable of destabilising the country.

She said, “As a candidate in the 2019 election for the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have called this emergency press conference in order to let the world know that President Buhari’s action is contrary to the tenets of our democracy.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari is, therefore, called upon to immediately reconsider his latest, fourth, rejection of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 that was transmitted to him by the National Assembly to be signed into law.”

President Buhari had rejected the bill for a fourth time last week, saying among other things that signing the bill into law so close to the country’s general elections might cause confusion and lead to the disruption of the polls.

In a letter dated December 6, he asked the National Assembly to make some adjustments to the bill and specify that the amendments to the Act would come into effect and be applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 polls.

READ ALSO: Again, Buhari Rejects Electoral Act Amendment Bill

But Ezekwesili rejected the President’s reasons for withholding his assent to the bill and urged all Nigerians to do the same.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the excuses of the President for not completing the process that will give Nigeria one of the soundest electoral laws in the world is an assault on our democracy and must be rejected roundly by all Nigerians,” she said.

“Mr President is dangerously setting up the country and the people for political destabilisation in 2019. Nothing of the excuses of President Muhammadu Buhari that there are observed errors when he, for the fourth time, sent the bill back to the National Assembly has any iota of credibility nor evidential persuasion for the Nigerian electorate.”

‘This Govt Is Desperate,’ Galadima Condemns Rejection Of Electoral Act Amendment

 

A former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Buba Galadima, has condemned the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Galadima criticised the President for his dissent to the bill in an interview on Sunday on Channels Television’s political flagship programme.

“This government is a government that is desperate; that wants to be in power by all means. There is nothing under the sun that they cannot do,” he said during his appearance on Sunday Politics.

He added, “The President doesn’t have that prerogative. It is not personal, it is a constitutional issue.

“It is a Nigerian issue and any patriotic Nigerian would assent to something that will bring benefit to Nigerians, will bring about credible election, free and fair election, level-playing field.”


READ ALSO

Keyamo Blames Electoral Bill Controversy On NASS ‘Self-Serving’ Nature

Again, Buhari Rejects Electoral Act Amendment Bill


'This Govt Is Desperate,' Galadima Condemns Rejection Of Electoral Act Amendment
Buba Galadima speaks during his appearance on Sunday Politics on December 9, 2018.

Galadima who is also one of the spokespersons for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign said he was not surprised that President Buhari rejected the bill.

He accused the APC of a plot to rig the general elections in 2019, alleging that the rejection of the bill was part of plans by the ruling party.

The PDP chieftain said, “I know as of fact and I have said so several times over for the last one year that Buhari will never sigh the Electoral Act (Amendment Bill).”

“This is why they are not campaigning, this is why they are not mobilising people, this is why they are not looking for people’s vote because as I envisaged, they want to cut corners and write figures and announce to the Nigerian public during elections,” he alleged.

Galadima who said this was unacceptable recalled that one of the President’s campaign promises in 2003 was to make sure that the votes of Nigerians count and to reform the nation’s electoral process.

He claimed that the President “has nobody to vote for him”, accused of him lacking integrity, and wondered if had he gone back on his words.

“Is he not the Buhari that we used to know that his words were his bone?” the former APC chieftain questioned.

Galadima, however, called on Nigerians and relevant stakeholders, as well as the international community, to pressure the President to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.

In a swift reaction, the spokesperson for the Buhari Campaign organisation, Festus Keyamo, described Galadima’s allegations and controversy surrounding the President’s decision as “very unnecessary”.

President Buhari had explained that he declined to assent to the bill because it might cause confusion in the forthcoming polls, among other reasons.

It is the fourth time he is rejecting the bill.

Keyamo Blames Electoral Bill Controversy On NASS ‘Self-Serving’ Nature

 

As controversy continues to trail the rejection of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Mr Festus Keyamo has accused the National Assembly of putting their interests over that of Nigerians.

Keyamo made the allegation on Sunday in reaction to claims that President Muhammadu Buhari declined to assent to the bill to win his re-election in 2019.

“I want to say clearly to Nigerians that we got to this point because of the self-serving nature of the National Assembly,” said the Senior Advocate of Nigeria during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

Earlier, a PDP chieftain Buba Galadima said the Buhari administration was desperate and wanted to retain power by all means.

He had called on called on Nigerians and the international community to pressure the President to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.


READ ALSO

‘This Govt Is Desperate,’ Galadima Condemns Rejection Of Electoral Act Amendment

Again, Buhari Rejects Electoral Act Amendment Bill


Keyamo Blames Electoral Bill Controversy On NASS 'Self-Serving' Nature
Festus Keyamo speaks during his appearance on Sunday Politics on December 9, 2018.

 

But Keyamo described the allegations as unnecessary and explained the rationale behind the President’s decision.

He said the opposition ought to have considered if the reasons given by the President were valid or not.

“The same international community they are appealing to will tell them that international conventions all over the world say that in any build-up to any election, it is wrong, it is against the international best practices to make any changes in any electoral law less than six months to any election,” said the spokesman for the Buhari Campaign Organisation.

He added, “If the President signs the Electoral Act Amendment Bill now, our elections will not be deemed to be credible, our elections will not be deemed to be free and fair.

“If he does not sign it like he has refused to do, that is when it will be deemed free and fair.”

Keyamo stressed that the President’s reason that the signing of the bill was too close to the elections was in tandem with the international protocol.

According to him, elections were cancelled in Kenya because of a similar situation in the country.

The senior advocate condemned the claims that the President rejected the bill because he was against the use of card readers for the polls.

He said, “Nigerians don’t know that the version of the bill that was transmitted to the President in August this year, which was the third time, did not include the provision regarding the card reader.

“If the President does not want card reader, the President would have quickly signed that version that was sent to him in August. It was the President that pointed it out to them.”