The Senate yesterday moved to strengthen the nation’s democratic process as it amended the Electoral Act. The Senate recommended that in the case that...
The Senate yesterday moved to strengthen the nation’s democratic process as it amended the Electoral Act.
The Senate recommended that in the case that the candidate of a political party dies before the conclusion of the election, the party shall within 14 days conduct a fresh direct primary to replace the dead candidate.
It also recommended that in such circumstance, the commission shall continue with the election, announce the final result and declare the winner of the election.
This amendment to the INEC Act puts to rest the controversy that arose at the November 21, 2015 Kogi State governorship election where the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Abubakar Audu, died before the conclusion of the election.
According to the report, a presiding officer, who wilfully and knowingly contravenes any provision of this section that applies to him, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for at least five years without an option of fine.
The debate on the recommendation of the committee on the use of card reader became controversial as some lawmakers kicked against it.
Giving an insight into the committee’s report on card reader, the chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said that if the card reader rejects more than 10 percent of registered voters, the election should be suspended.
The committee had recommended that in the case that the card reader malfunctions to the point of rejecting up to 10 per cent of the voters, the presiding officer should use manual accreditation.
But some senators canvassed that the election be suspended for another day.
Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio insisted that it would lead to many cases of inconclusive elections which, according to him, had been the trade mark of the current Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He posited that the presiding officer should resort to the use of manual for the purpose of election.
The amendment of the Electoral Act was sequel to a report of the Senate Committee on INEC, read out by its chairman, Senator Kyari (APC, Borno North).
Laying the report at pleanery, Sen Kyari asked the upper chamber to consider the report on the INEC Act (Amendment) Bill 2016 (SB 231 and SB 234)
Parts of the reports read: “If after the commencement of poll and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a nominated candidate dies, the Commission shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days; the political party whose candidate died may, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh direct primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate; and subject to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection, the Commission shall continue with the election, announce the final result and declare a winner.
On accreditation of voters, transmission of accreditation data, and issuance of ballot papers to voters, the report said:
“A person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered.
“The Presiding Officer shall use a Smart Card Reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the Commission from time to time for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm or authenticate the genuineness or otherwise of the voter’s card; that the voter’s card presented by the voter is registered at the polling unit in the constituency in which the card is presented; the biometric connection or otherwise of the intending voter with the voter’s card; and the number of duly accredited voters in the polling unit.
“An intending voter shall not be accredited to vote in an election if the voter’s card presented by him to the Presiding Officer is not a genuine voter’s card issued by the Commission to the intending voter, registered at the polling unit in the constituency in which the card is presented, and biometrically connected to the intending voter.
“Notwithstanding paragraph (3) (c) of this section, the Presiding Officer, on being satisfied that an intending voter is the owner of the voter’s card, may accredit the intending voter to vote in the election:
“Provided that where the number of voters accredited under this subsection exceeds ten percent of the total number of registered voters in the polling unit, the Commission shall suspend the election in that unit and comply with subsection (3) (c) of this section at a later date, if the result of the election at that polling unit may affect the overall result in the Constituency.
“The Commission shall continue the conduct of an election suspended under subsection (4) of this section within seven days of the suspension if the result of the election at that polling unit may affect the overall result in the Constituency.”