Electoral Bill: Senate bows to Nigerians, deletes clause against electronic transmission of results

In a face saving move, the Senate Tuesday deleted its controversially amended clause 52 (3) of the 2021 Electoral Bill, which subjected transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to confirmation of adequacy and security of National Network coverage by the Nigerian Communications Communication (NCC).

It also concurred with the House of Representatives through amendment of section 87 of the bill by recommending direct primaries for all political parties for election of candidates for the various elective positions.

The Senate had in July during consideration of report on 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 submitted by its Commitee on INEC, amended clause 52(3) as recommended.

While the clause as presented by the committee in the report, says “INEC can transmit election results electronically where and when practicable , the Senate passed the amended version which says ” INEC can transmit election results electronically subject to confirmation of Nigerian Communication Commission ( NCC) of adequacy and security of National Network.

The House of Representatives at the time, adopted the clause as originally recommended by committees of both Chambers on INEC.

Consequently since then, the Senate has been in the eye of the storm which apparently made it to make U- turn by deleting its controversially amended clause.

Senate ‘s action in this direction, was sequel to submissions made to that effect by the Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC Kebbi North), as listed on the Order Paper.

Though the Senate Leader in his submissions listed clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87 for further legislative action but only 52 and 87 were amended while the other two, were adopted as earlier passed.

In jetissioning its earlier position against electronic transmission of election results by INEC without approval from any agency, the Senate deleted outrightly clause 52(3) it passed in July.

The clause states: “The Commission ( INEC) , may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the National coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC.”

The Clause 52(2) used to replace the jetisioned one reads “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 INEC” , which is more or less , giving the electoral body , the power to transmit election results electronically where and when practicable as earlier recommended by committees of both Chamber on INEC in their separate reports.

The amendment effected on section 87 of the bill reads: “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 new position was against the earlier one taken in July as contained in section 87(2) which reads: “The procedure for the nomination of candidates by the political parties shall be by direct or indirect primaries.

However, before adoption of the amendment, Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe ( pPDP Abia South), Shaibu Lau (PDP Taraba North), Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), kicked against it in their various submissions.

In his remarks after the amendments, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the position taken on the two clauses represent Senate’ s new position which the seven-member conference committee earlier set up, should push through when they meet with third counterparts from the House of Representatives.