Reps Pass Electoral Act Amendment Bill After Opposition Lawmakers Walk Out

 

The House of Representatives has passed the Electoral Amendment Bill, moments after opposition lawmakers walked out of the heated session at the National Assembly chambers in Abuja on Friday. 

Nigeria’s lower chamber passed the bill after a clause-by-clause consideration.

The house passed the majority of the 158 clauses of the bill intact including Clause 52 (2), which had led to controversy and debate.

The clause provides that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shall determine the mode of voting/transmission of election results.

The retained Clause 52 (2) reads, “Voting at election and transmission of results in this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission.”

Attempts by some lawmakers to amend the clause were the cause of heated debate and rowdiness during plenary on Thursday.

On Friday, the situation was no different as the debate over the clause resulted in opposition lawmakers majorly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) walking out of the session as they insisted that the clause was never carried.

They threatened to disrupt the proceedings when the House resumes from break.

On Thursday, the Green Chamber failed to reach a consensus over the much-debated clause after the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wale ruled against the electronic transmission of election results in spite of a resounding vote in favour of the move.

Subsequently, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said 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(2).

The NCC which later honoured the invitation of the House of Reps explained that it cannot guarantee a 100% percent safety of results for the electronic transmission of results, explaining that no system is completely free from hackers.

NCC’s Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management), Adeleke Adewolu admitted that no system can guarantee a 100 percent shield from hacking.

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

READ ALSO: Reps In Disorder As Deputy Speaker Rules Against E-Transmission Of Electoral Results

Senators Vote

The Senate has given a conditional nod for the electronic transmission of election results.

 

Already, the Senate had voted for the conditional electronic transmission of election results.

At the end of voting, 28 Senators mostly from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted for the original amendment in the report while 52 Senators backed the amendment as proposed by Senator Sabi Abdullahi.

This means the majority of Senators voted that INEC may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC and approved by the National Assembly.

Electoral Act Amendment: Senate Committee Presents Report On Bill

File Photo of the Senate

 

The Senate committee on INEC has laid the report of the highly anticipated Electoral Act Amendment bill before the Senate at Wednesday’s legislative proceedings.

The Senate is expected to debate the report on Thursday before it proceeds on its annual recess.

Ahead of the presentation and debate of the report, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, noted that there are various insinuations that the leadership of the Senate or leadership of the National Assembly has tampered with the report of the committee on INEC of both chambers.

However, he says some of those accusing the leadership of the National Assembly are misinformed and innocent while some others are simply mischievous and rabble-rousers.

Senator Lawan maintained that this is the first time the report on the Electoral Act Amendment bill would be laid before the senate and the recommendations in the report are the decisions of the committee on INEC.

He further noted that whatever will be discussed or considered concerning the bill, will be on the basis of what has been presented to the Senate.

The Senate leader advised anyone who feels very strongly about any aspect of the bill to lobby senators to canvass for their positions.

The bill has also been laid before the House of Representatives and is expected to be considered and passed on Thursday.

Senate Begins Fresh Process Of Electoral Act Amendment

BREAKING: Senate Confirms Aisha Ahmad As CBN Deputy Governor
File photo

The Senate has said it will begin a fresh process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act.

The new bill will on Tuesday be presented on the floor of the Senate and has been listed on its Order Paper for First Reading.

However, it is not clear at this point what the specific areas for amendment are in this fresh exercise, or if the Senate is still holding firm to the proposed amendments in the ongoing exercise.

But following President Buhari’s decision to decline assent on the amendment of the Electoral Act, lawmakers in both chambers are strategizing on how to override the President’s veto.

The President had on March 13, 2018, withheld assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

He said that he is declining assent to the amendment of the Electoral Act because the amendment to the sequence of the election in section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organise, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 16(a) of the constitution.

He also stated that the amendment to section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates unduly limits the right of candidates to a free and fair electoral review process.

President Buhari further stated that the amendment to section 152 (325) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

“Pursuant to Section 58 (4) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision on (3rd March 2018) to decline presidential assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

But the leaders of the National Assembly on March 17, 2018, vowed to jointly give an appropriate response after President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Contrary to reports that both National Assembly leaders are divided over the President’s position to the amended bill, Saraki and Dogara noted that they are working “in agreement on what to do”.

Both leaders added that the move by the lawmakers to change the sequence in which elections are conducted was not personal but in the interest of the nation’s democracy.

Presidential and National Assembly elections are always conducted (on the same day) before other polls, while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow.

 

Senator Omo-Agege Apologises To Senate For Comments About Electoral Act Amendment

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege

 

Senator Ovie Omo- Agege has apologised to the Senate over his comments about electoral act Amendment.

Omo-Agege had earlier accused the upper legislative chamber of deliberately targeting President Muhammadu Buhari by changing the sequence of elections.

Alongside nine Senators, Omo-Agege last week Wednesday made the statement after the Senate adopted the conference report on the amendment. They alleged that the amendment had a pre-determined motive aimed at President Buhari.

The Senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, however, apologised on Wednesday, February 21, during the Senate plenary.

After the apology, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided at plenary advised Senator Omo-Agege to meet with Committee on Ethics which has been mandated to investigate the matter.

READ ALSO: Senate To Probe Senator Omo-Agege’s Comment On Electoral Act

We Can’t Allow APC Wither Away, Akande Rallies Support For Tinubu

The Senate on Tuesday, February 21 directed its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the statement credited to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. This was after Senator Dino Melaye raised a point of order saying his privilege as a Federal Lawmaker and that of the Senate was breached by the statement made by Senator Omo-Agege.

The adoption of the amendment to Section 25 of the Electoral Act 2010, provides that the presidential elections would be conducted last, instead of first, as is the current order.

Electoral Act Amendment: Lawyer Wants Votes To Count For Candidate Not Party

ikechukwu-ikejiA Nigerian lawyer, Ikechukwu Ikeji, is of the view that votes in elections should count for the candidate of a political party and not the party.

Mr Ikeji said that with such clause in the Electoral Act, when any candidate of a political party dies, he should die with the votes he had gotten in the process of the election, as seen in Kogi State last year.

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Kogi State governorship election, Mr Abubakar Audu, had died in the course of the election and his votes were transferred to another a ‘replacement candidate’.

The decision had triggered controversy within the APC and even within the political sector.

To address the situation should such occur in future, the Senate decided to amend the Electoral Act to give a period not more than 21 days to the parties to present a replacement or take whatever  decision that should be taken before the election would continue.

But Mr Ikeji believes the candidate should die with his votes.

“It is fair that votes to be attached to a candidate and not to the political party.

“Presently, as it is, votes count for the party not the candidate.

“By the intendment of the constitution, the vote belongs to the candidate,” he stated.

The Supreme Court while giving its ruling on a suit that was filed by one of the candidates in the Kogi election against the emergence of Mr Yahaya Bello as the governor, apportioned the vote to the political party, declaring Mr Yahaya, who completed an election that late Audu started the winner.

On the decision of the Supreme Court, Mr Ikeji said: “It was strange to me that the Supreme Court will lift vote belonging to one person and give it to another.

“Some people would have voted for Mr Audu because they wanted him and not Mr Bello while some, who would not have voted for Mr Audu, will vote for Mr Bello because he is their preferred candidate,” the lawyer pointed out.

He insisted that by the operation of law,”the Supreme Court ought to have either called for a fresh election or asked that the election be concluded in favour of the people who are already candidates”.

The Senate had amended the Electoral Act to ensure that a proper procedure is followed in situations where a candidate of a political party dies in an election.

Mr Ikeji welcomed the decision of the National Assembly to amend the law to settle such circumstances, pointing out that “law making is to cure mischief or apparent defects”.

Empowering INEC Through Electoral Act For Credible Election In  2015

Senate_ChamberEmpowering the electoral body in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and improving the electoral process was given much attention in the National Assembly in the first week of July.

The 2015 General Elections are just few months away and the legislature is in a race to amend sections in the electoral act to ensure a credible, free and fair election.

Last month federal lawmakers in the upper chamber, after a clause by clause vote, approved several amendments to the Electoral Act.

Concluding the process during the week, the Senate passed the amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act.

The Electoral Act

The Electoral Act 2010, as amended, provides for tenure of Office of Secretary of the INEC.

The amendment also specified that the Chairman and members of the Area Council Election Appeal Tribunal should be appointed by the Chief Judge of the Abuja High Court.

Presenting the report at plenary, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said the amendment became necessary for improved management of the electoral system in Nigeria.

The Bill also provides 500,000 Naira penalty or 12 months imprisonment or both for any polling officer, political party or party agent who conspires to falsify election results.

The Bill also empowers INEC to determine the procedure for voting at an election, thereby removing the previous prohibition of electronic voting.

The Senate however rejected the proposal for INEC to conduct all elections on the same day, as the committee noted that the commission lacked the capacity to manage large scale elections in a single day.

Federal Lawmakers also voted against the proposal to make presidential debates mandatory before an election, arguing that election debates should not be made a constitutional matter.

House Of Reps Defer Passage Of Bill

In a related development, the House of Representatives also began a process to further amend the Electoral Act.House-of-Reps1

A debate on a bill sponsored by a federal lawmaker from Delta State, Daniel Reyenieju, commenced on the floor of the House towards the amendment of several sections of the ‘Electoral Act 2010’ to make it more precise and encourage more participation from Nigerians.

The 28-section bill seeks among other things to increase the days available for the electorate to report damage or loss of voters’ card to the electoral body from 30 to 45 days to curb disenfranchisement.

But the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, deferred further debate on the bill till the second week of July to allow for wider participation. This was even as he deferred the passage of a bill for an Act to authorise the issuance of 271 billion Naira being the budget of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration.

The bill caused a rowdy session on the floor of the House, as members insisted they must peruse details of the budget to allow insight into the proposed expenditure of the FCT before its passage.

The House also considered a bill for an Act to establish the constituencies’ development fund and a bill for an Act to amend the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to adequately equip the defence corporations in view of the security challenges in the northeast.

Both bills passed second reading on the floor of the House.

The House also adopted a harmonised report by both legislative chambers on a bill for an Act to repeal the Prisons Act, 2004, a motion for which a lawmaker, Umar Bature, raised at plenary and was unanimously endorsed in a voice vote.

Also up for discussion was the need to ensure even development of all constituencies in the federation through the establishment of a Constituencies’ Development Fund.

Sponsor of the bill, Ben Nwankwo, argued that with 70 per cent of Nigerians reside in the rural area and that the bill would ensure good governance reaches the crucial areas, a submission that generated a debate.

Implementation Of Ogoniland Oil Spill Recommendation

Outside plenary, the Committee on Environment met with the Shell Petroleum and Ministries, Departments and Agencies supervising the petroleum industry to find out why the 2011 United Nations Environment Programm – UNEP report and recommendations on Ogoniland oil spill have not been implemented 4 years after it was submitted to the president.

There were allegations that the Federal Government was frustrating the release of funds for the implementation of the UN report, allegations backed by the submission from the Ogoni Restoration Project Manager for the Shell Petroleum Development company (SPDC) Mr. Augustin Igbuku, that their contribution to the $1 billion Ogoni restoration fund was hampered by the lack of governance structure and legal framework for Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, the ad hoc intervention agency set up by the government.

There was also a disagreement between the department of petroleum resources, DPR and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA over the level of implementation.

While the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Danladi Kifasi and Dr. Musa Zagi, the General Manager, health, safety and environment in DPR said the Federal Government is working seriously on the implementation of the UNEP report the Director General of NOSDRA, Mr Peter Idabor, said not much has been done in terms of the implementation.