Electoral Act Amendment: NASS Re-Amends Bill, Allows Direct And Indirect Primaries

National Assembly Must Reconvene Immediately – APC
File photo: National Assembly Complex.

 

The National Assembly has re-amended the Electoral Act Amendment Bill on Wednesday and approved both direct and indirect primaries.

Both chambers made the re-amendment in separate plenary sessions. In the Senate, the lawmakers also added the consensus clause for the nomination of candidates by political parties for elective positions.

In a statement, the upper chamber equally noted that “a political party that adopts the direct primaries procedure shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party”.

On Clause 84(4), it read that “a political party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall adopt the procedure outlined below; (a) In the case of nominations to the position of Presidential candidate, a political party shall, (i) hold special conventions in each of the 36 states of the federation and FCT, where delegates shall vote for each of the aspirants at designated centers in each State Capital on specified dates.”


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But at the House of Representatives, the legislators removed the consensus option.

They had gone into a closed-door session after which the chamber became rowdy. The reason for this was, however, not known as the lawmakers gathered in clusters.

Wednesday’s move is the latest in the series of events that have trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s decline of assent to the bill.

In December, President Buhari had written to the National Assembly, informing them of his decision to decline assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

In the letter, the Nigerian leader had cited the direct primaries clause as a major reason for his decision.

He explained that while the inclusion of the clause is anti-democratic, it is also expensive to execute.

“In addition to increased costs identified above, conducting and monitoring primary elections across 8,809 wards will pose huge security challenges as the security agencies will also be overstretched, direct primaries will be open to participation from all and sundry and such large turn-out without effective security coordination will also engender intimidation and disruptions, thereby raising credibility issues for the outcomes of such elections,” the Nigerian leader added.

“The amendment as proposed is a violation of the underlying spirit of democracy which is characterized by freedom of choices.”

According to him, since membership of political parties is voluntary, and millions of Nigerians are not card-carrying members of any party, the emphasis should be on enabling citizens to vote for the candidates of their choice during elections.

The President’s action caused ripples across the political space. Some High-profile personalities and the leading opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had faulted the development.

In a statement, the PDP accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to rig the 2023 elections, describing Buhari’s action as a “script to put Nigerians under perpetual bondage”.

“Having been rejected for its failures and having also self-decimated its structure across the country, the APC has completely lost the capacity and goodwill for an electoral contest and as such, seeks every means to subvert any process that can guarantee credible elections in 2023,” the party explained.

Aside from political parties, civil society organisations had also raised concerns about some “errors” in the bill just as several governors including Abdullahi Sule had dismissed claims that they were against the direct primaries clause.

The Nasarawa State leader told Channels Television Sunday Politics that the governors are not against direct primaries.

“It is not that the state governors are against direct. All we said was that why don’t you leave the options,” he said.

“The Electoral Act is far more than just direct or indirect. There are so many important things there, why are we boxing ourselves with either direct or indirect?”

House Of Reps Rescinds Decision On Direct Primaries

File photo: Mr Femi Gbajabiamila presides over a plenary at the House of Representatives chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The House of Representatives has rescinded its decision on the compulsory direct primaries clause in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The lawmakers reversed the move during a plenary session on Wednesday and instead, adopted the direct and indirect primaries. It also expunged the consensus option.

During the plenary, the lawmakers had gone into a closed-door session after which the chamber became rowdy. But the reason for the rowdiness was unclear as they were seen in different groups conferring.

READ ALSO: Buhari Withholds Assent To Electoral Act Amendment

Earlier in the day, the Senate had towed the same line, recommending both direct and indirect primaries.

The lawmaker’s move is coming weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, citing the compulsory direct primaries clause.

In a letter to the National Assembly, the Nigerian leader had faulted the move, saying it is expensive and also against the spirit of democracy.

“The amendment to the sequence of the elections in section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 15 (a) of the third schedule of the constitution,” Buhari said in a letter to the lawmakers.

“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 rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process and the amendments to section 152 (3)-(5) of the Principal Act, may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections.”

Buhari’s move had triggered reactions from several quarters including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to rig the 2023 elections.

House Of Reps Warn Against Repeat Of Siege On Justice Odili’s Home

A file photo of members of the House of Representatives attending a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja on November 24, 2020.

 

The House of Representatives has cautioned against unwarranted assaults of judicial officers following the siege on the residence of a Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili. 

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, issued the warning during the 2022 budget defence of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday in Abuja.

“Of great importance to this committee is the security of judicial officers. We have stated as a committee that we should create an enabling environment, not only a working environment, not just good living conditions, but a secured environment for our judicial officials to operate without hindrance, without any fear of intimidation or harassment,” the lawmaker added.

“We want to condemn the attack on Justice Odili’s residence, a justice of the Supreme Court and we ask that this should not repeat itself. It happened in 2017, this should not be allowed to repeat itself because we are weakening the morale and strength of our judicial officers.”

The committee called for more protection for judicial officers.

Meanwhile, the committee also wants an intervention fund created for the judiciary to upgrade in line with international standards.

“We have intervention fund for sports, we have intervention funds for youths, we have had intervention funds for entertainment, I do not think it will be out of place for the Federal government to have intervention fund for the Judiciary,” he stated, adding that “this is the only way the judiciary can meet up with its competing demands facing the judiciary as we go on.’’

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.

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.

Electronic Transmission: We Must Do That Which Is In Nigerians’ Best Interest – Gbajabiamila

 

Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, reminded his distinguished colleagues that their deliberations on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill come at a very special moment in the nation’s history, one which would require them to do all in the best interest of Nigerians.

Addressing other legislators during a heated plenary on the electronic transmission of poll results on Thursday, the House of Reps Speaker warned that whatever decision is taken must not be done out of selfish interest.

“The reason why I think we should get it right is that this is a moment in history and we should do whatever in our conscience that we believe is in the best interest of Nigeria,” the Speaker advised his colleagues.

While urging lawmakers to stop shouting each other down, Gbajabiamila stressed that no one can impose their own will over others, adding that the decision on the contentious bill must only be made when all democratic options have been explored.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Conditional Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

 

A rowdy session

Prior to the Speaker’s address, the House of Reps seemed a place where cats and mice were at each other’s heels.

Things fell apart on Thursday after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.

Plenary on Thursday continued its deliberations on the amendment of section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, with Honourable Wase chairing the session instead of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who is on the floor of the House.

READ ALSO: Senators Vote Along Party Lines Over Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

The new amendment provides 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.

Having taken quite a while to deliberate on the matter, the lawmakers voted orally, and the Deputy Speaker clanged the gavel ruling against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding chorus in support of E-Transmission.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Conditional Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

After a while calm was restored in the House and deliberations continued with some congressmen calling for a proper division on the matter.

Another round of votes was called for and again the Deputy Speaker, despite a resounding vote in favour of an amendment for manual and electronic transmission of results, ruled against ayes, sending the House into yet another frenzy.

This time it proved almost impossible for the House to be called to order, but decorum returned after a while.

READ ALSO: House Of Reps Steps Down PIB

A motion to suspend consideration and revert to plenary was moved and seconded, but lawmakers voted against it, however, the house eventually reverted to plenary.

In reporting progress, the deputy speaker stated that the controversial clause 52 has been considered and approved but some lawmakers insisted that this is not the case; this leads to heated arguments with two lawmakers Ifeanyi Momah and Shehu Koko get involved in a heated exchange.

Another lawmaker Yusuf Gagdi went out of control and members took great effort to restrain him, forcing Speaker Gbajabiamila to take back his seat as chair of the House and moved that the session be adjourned.

Gbajabiamila Reveals Why Reps Did Not Adopt E-Voting For PIB

(File Photo) The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Fem Gbajabiamila.

 

 

Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has explained why the chamber did not adopt electronic voting for the clause-by-clause consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

Gbajabiamila on Thursday said it would be difficult to deploy e-voting for such huge legislations.

The Speaker, in his valedictory speech at the plenary, noted that the 9th House of Representatives has carried on its constitutional duty to make laws for the good government of the country.

“After multiple failed attempts over two decades, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has passed both House of the National Assembly and will shortly be transmitted to the President after proper harmonization with the Senate. 

“It has been mentioned to me that landmark legislation such as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill ought to have been considered using the electronic voting system in the House. While I agree with this suggestion, e-voting usually in most parts of the world is meant for single item pieces of legislation not 400 clause considerations, except on reports that contain the limited number of clauses. As such, it is not ideal for this bill,” the Speaker stated.

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

Gbajabiamila however assured that the lawmakers will make sure that the system is fully deployed in advance of the House’s resumption, even as the legislative year comes to an end.

While stressing that the work of the legislature never ends, the Speaker said even though the legislators will not be in the chambers making laws and advocating for the people, still, their attention will be required in their constituencies on other engagements relating to their service in the House of Representatives.

He urged the congressmen to endeavour to use this recess to spend time with their families, as well as use them for deep reflection, to examine themselves and assess the quality of the service they have each provided in the year under review. as to determine those areas where improvements are needed, and where they need to do better than was done in the past year.

Fight Breaks Out At Reps As Lawmakers Debate Electronic Transmission Of Results

 

A fight broke out today at the House of Representatives, as lawmakers debated over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, with a major focus on section 52(3) which deals with electronic transmission of poll results.

The new amendment provides that 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.

All initially seemed well as plenary got underway with deliberations on the matter, however, things began to fall apart after lawmakers voted orally, and Deputy Speaker Idris Wase clanged the gavel ruling against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding chorus in support of E-Transmission.

The House became rowdy as many congressmen frowned at the Deputy Speaker’s action, with some asking that a clear line of demarcation be drawn.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Conditional Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

When the House eventually came to order, deliberations continued on the subject and the lawmakers resolved to vote again regarding the matter.

Another round of votes held and again the Deputy Speaker, despite a resounding vote in favour of an amendment for manual and electronic transmission of results, ruled against the ayes, sending the House into yet another frenzy.

This time it proved almost impossible for the House to be called to order, but decorum returned after a long while.

All was far from over after the House was brought to decorum a second time, even as a motion to suspend consideration and revert to plenary was moved, seconded, but kicked against by members of the Green Chamber.

Honourable Wase, the Deputy Speaker on Thursday clanged his gavel twice in favour of the nays, despite a resounding vote by the ayes in the House who were in support of transmuting electoral results electronically.
Honourable Wase, the Deputy Speaker on Thursday clanged his gavel twice in favour of the nays, despite a resounding vote by the ayes in the House who were in support of transmuting electoral results electronically.

 

The house eventually reverted to plenary but in reporting progress, the deputy speaker stated that the controversial clause 52 has been considered and approved, but some lawmakers insisted that this is not the case;  it was at this time that yet another heated round of arguments rocked the floor of the hallowed chamber with two lawmakers Ifeanyi Momah and Shehu Koko getting involved in a heated exchange.

Other lawmakers joined the fray while some other honourable colleagues went a great length to restrain those gunning for each other’s necks. This forced the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila to take back his seat as chair of the House and moved that the session be adjourned.

With the Speaker’s notion seconded, the session was adjourned till Friday 10am to commence from clause 52, with the INEC Chairman and his NCC counterpart in attendance.

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

 

The House of Representatives is in a rowdy session as lawmakers debate over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. 

Things fell apart on Thursday after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.

Plenary on Thursday continued its deliberations on the amendment of section 52(3) of the electoral act amendment bill, with Honourable Wase chairing the session instead of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who is on the floor of the House.

READ ALSO: Senators Vote Along Party Lines Over Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

The new amendment provides 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.

Having taken quite a while to deliberate on the matter, the lawmakers voted orally, and the Deputy Speaker clanged the gavel ruling against electronic transmission of results despite a resounding chorus in support of E-Transmission.

READ ALSO: Senate Approves Conditional Electronic Transmission Of Electoral Results

After a while calm was restored in the House and deliberations continued with some congressmen calling for a proper division on the matter.

Another round of votes was called for and again the Deputy Speaker, despite a resounding vote in favour of an amendment for manual and electronic transmission of results, ruled against ayes, sending the House into yet another frenzy.

This time it proved almost impossible for the House to be called to order, but decorum returned after a while.

READ ALSO: House Of Reps Steps Down PIB

A motion to suspend consideration and revert to plenary was moved and seconded, but lawmakers voted against it, however, the house eventually reverted to plenary.

In reporting progress, the deputy speaker stated that the controversial clause 52 has been considered and approved but some lawmakers insisted that this is not the case; this leads to heated arguments with two lawmakers Ifeanyi Momah and Shehu Koko get involved in a heated exchange.

Another lawmaker Yusuf Gagdi went out of control and members took great effort to restrain him, forcing Speaker Gbajabiamila to take back his seat as chair of the House and moved that the session be adjourned.

With the Speaker’s notion seconded, the House was adjourned till tomorrow 10am to commence from clause 52, with the INEC Chairman and his NCC counterpart in attendance.

South-South Lawmakers Chant ‘Five Per cent’ After PIB Allocation Is Pegged At Three Per cent

 

Members of the House of Representatives from the South-South have opposed the harmonised Petroleum Industry Bill allocation to host communities which has been pegged at three per cent.

The lawmakers were heard chanting “five per cent” as against the three pre cent at the floor of the House on Thursday.

The chants continued even as the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, walked in to commence plenary.

Shortly after, the House went into an executive session.

[Read Also] PIB: Nigerian Governors Fault Proposed Ownership Structure For NNPC

Bill To Allow Creation Of State Police Passes Second Reading

In this photo released by the House of Representatives, some lawmakers are seated during one of the plenaries in the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

A bill to alter the constitution to allow for the creation of state police and other state government security services has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives. 

The bill was sponsored by Onofiok Luke representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency.

READ ALSO: Group Demands Inquest Into Lady’s Death At Yoruba Nation Rally

In leading the debate on Tuesday, the lawmaker highlighted that the bill will enhance the security and preservation of lives and properties in Nigeria.

The bill seeks to move the legislation of policing from the house exclusive to the concurrent list.

 

 See the full content of the Bill below…

 

CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (FIFTH ALTERATION) BILL, 2020

Arrangement of Clauses
Clause:
1. Alteration of Cap. C23, LFN, 2004.
2. Alteration of section 197.
3. Alteration of the Second Schedule.
4. Alteration of the Third Schedule.
5. Citation.

CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (FIFTH ALTERATION) BILL, 2020
A Bill
For
An Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap. C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to provide for State Police and other state government security services to enhance security and preservation of lives and properties in Nigeria; and for related matters.

Sponsor: Hon. Onofiok Luke (Etinan/ Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal
Constituency)

ENACTED by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria─

1 The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Cap.C23, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (in this Bill referred to as “the Principal Act”) is altered as set out in this Bill.
Alteration of Cap. C23, LFN, 2004.
2 Section 197(1) of the Principal Act is altered by inserting after paragraph (d), new paragraphs “(e)” – “(f)” –

“(e) State Police Council; and
(f) State Police Service Commission.”

3. The Second Schedule to the Principal Act is altered–

(a) in Part I, by deleting item 45 from the Exclusive Legislative List; and

(b) in Part II, by inserting after item 30 on the Concurrent Legislative List, new items “31” – “32” –

“31. The National Assembly may make laws for the establishment of the Federal Police and other Federal government security services;

32. A House of Assembly may make laws for the establishment of State Police and other state government security services.”

4. The Third Schedule to the Principal Act is altered by inserting after paragraph (8), new paragraphs “9” – “12” – “E State Police Council

9. A State Police Council shall comprise the following members:

(a) the Governor, who shall be the Chairman;

(b) the Chairman of the State Police Service Commission; and

(c) State Commissioner of Police.

10. The functions of a State Police Council shall include –

(a) the organisation and administration of a State Police Force and all other matters relating thereto (not being matters relating to the use and operational control of the Force or the appointment, disciplinary control and dismissal of members of the Force);

(b) the general supervision of a State Police Force; and

(c) advising the Governor on the appointment of State Commissioner of Police.

F State Police Service Commission

11. A State Police Service Commission shall comprise the following members –

(a) a Chairman; and

(b) such number of other persons, not less than five but not more than seven, as may be prescribed by a Law made by the House of Assembly of a State.

12. The Commission shall have power to –

(a) appoint persons to offices (other than the office of the State Commissioner of Police) in the State Police Force; and

(b) dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding any office referred to in subparagraph (a).”5.This Bill may be cited as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fifth Alteration) Bill, 2020.