The National Assembly has empowered the electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to be the sole authority to request for the deployment of security personnel for election purposes in the country.
The new development is part of the new amendments proposed to the Electoral Act 2010, which includes a new sub-section (b) to the extant section 29 (1) of the principal Act that will give more powers to INEC on troops deployment.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives adopted the conference committee report on a bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6 of 2010 yesterday, following a motion moved to that effect by Hon. Jerry Manwe.
The House consequently received and adopted the conference committee report on the amendment bill in order to ensure a level-playing field for all participants in the electoral process and for more transparent process of conducting elections in the country, among others.
The report, which was presented in plenary by the chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Manwe, has a total of 28 amendments contained in it.
On the new powers to INEC, the report said: “This new provision seeks to ensure that the commission is responsible for requesting and deploying relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters; assigning them in the manner determined by the commission in collaboration with the relevant security agencies, with the condition that the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces shall only be for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials.”
Section 29 (1) (b) of the adopted amendment states that “not withstanding the provions of any other law and for purposes of securing the vote, the commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in the manner determined by the commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies.”
“Provided that the commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials,” it added.
The amendment also empowers INEC to disqualify candidates by providing for Section 7 (A), which provides that: “Any political party that presents to the commission the name of a candidate that does not meet the qualification stipulated in the constitution and this Act shall be disqualified from participating in that particular election for that office.”
There is also another amendment to Section 63 (3) by empowering INEC presiding officers to announce results at polling units.
The new provision states that, “The presiding officer shall then announce the result at the polling unit and shall thereafter give the candidates or their polling agents, the assigned police officer, the assigned representative of the State Security Service, assigned representative of Security and Civil Defence Corps, accredited election observer groups and a representative of the media a copy each of the signed and announced result form.”