Lawmakers Express Mixed Reactions Over Electoral Act Amendment

Some members of the House of Representatives yesterday expressed mixed reactions to the Senate’s approval of electronic voting and the use of the card reader in future elections under the amendment of the Electoral Act, 2010. The mixed opinion of the lawmakers was across party lines in the All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, dominated chamber.
House of Representatives The House is expected to give its concurrence or otherwise to the amendments before they can be forwarded to the president for assent before the amendments can have the force of law.
Leading in the opposition of the introduction of Card Reader is the Minority Leader of the House, Leo Ogor, who described it as a fraud, although he was supportive of the introduction of electronic voting.
“The card reader is a fraud, but I support electronic voting,” Ogor said as he described the amendment carried out in the senate as a welcome development but tagged the card reader as an instrument of rigging as according to him it disenfranchised many Nigerians during the 2015 general polls.
He explained that “we must sit down to perfect the electronic voting in our electoral process but I’m totally against the card reader because it’s a clear instrument of rigging. “The card reader is not in the best interest of Nigerians and should be thrown over board and electronic voting should mount the centre stage as it ‘ll benefit all and sundry.”
There is nothing with Card Reader — Gogo, PDP Rep But Rep. Bright Gogo, representing Okrika/Ogu/Bolo Federal Constituency of Rivers State on the platform of the PDP on his part said there was nothing wrong with the new amendments as they would reduce fraud and introduce transparency. Gogo said, “what we are all looking at is a credible election and if we must have a credible election, then we must have to change from this traditional methods of manually doing things. The world is going digital.
“Though human beings will still have to operate the machines, but electronic voting will to an extent, eliminate some of the ills we cry about, those collation fraud and all that.” He, however, expressed concern about the level of literacy and power infrastructure needed to push through electronic voting. “If these things are strengthened, all these issues of power, issues of proper education of voters, it will be a good development.
I see nothing about it, especially the collation because most times, rigging or electoral fraud is perpetuated at the point of collation at the LGA level, at the state level. If these things are electronically done, there will be a degree of assurance.” On the fears expressed by some members of the PDP, he said, “I am of the PDP and I am not kicking against it.
Elections are local, provided you know where you are coming from and you have your electorate behind you and with one man one vote, there will be nothing strange to you. Nigeria not matured for electronic voting, card reader —Maren In his own reaction, the member representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency of Plateau State, Rep Solomon Bulus Maren said Nigeria with epileptic power supply was not ripe for electronic voting. Maren said, “The issue of electronic voting is even constitutional.
So there is the need for us to first do the amendment of the constitution before we can further go ahead to talk of electronic voting. “In the first place, the use of card reader is another illegal way of voting even though some people are arguing that it is not used for voting, it is only used for the accreditation of voters, but voting is not only one activity, it is a process. “It starts from the verification of voters list up to the thumb printing, counting and even declaring of results.
All these are parts of voting. We need to understand it in that manner before we can now begin to say that yes, we can actually allow the issue of electronic voting.”

Nigerian Senate amends Electoral Act to allow for electronic voting

Nigeria now comes close to using electoral voting system in the conduct of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, after the country’s Senate amended the Electoral Act on Thursday.

The amendment followed the adoption of the report of the alteration of the existing electoral law, Electoral Act 2010, by of the Senate committee on INEC, and subsequently, the passage of the amendment bill for third reading.

The report on the amendment was presented by Abubakar Kyari, APC-Borno, who stood in for the chairman of the INEC committee, Ali Ndume, APC-Borno, who is on a six-month suspension.

Mr. Kyari, now chairman of the defence committee, is the former chairman of the INEC committee who led most of the work on the amendment process before he was replaced by Mr. Ndume in February.

It took long deliberation before the report was adopted for third reading.

“We have introduced electronic voting through any technology INEC deems fit,” said Mr. Kyari, speaking after the bill scaled through.

The Senate also legalized the use smart card reader and “any technological device” for accreditation.

Card reader was deployed for 2015 general elections, but the Supreme Court, in its rulings on Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom State governorship elections, faulted the use.

Although INEC continued to use card readers to accredit voters in rerun elections that followed 2015 general polls as part of its guidelines, this is the first time the technology would be given legal backing.

The Senate also moved to give statutory backing to INEC’s newly unveiled electronic result and transmission system with the aim of eliminating manual collation of results in Nigeria’s electoral process.

INEC Working On Proposal For The Amendment Of Electoral Act – Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it was finalising a comprehensive proposal for constitutional and legal amendments to the Electoral Act.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was quoted making the accretion during a retreat organized by the Federal House of Representatives’ Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matters in Abuja.

According to the commission’s bulletin issued on Wednesday in Abuja, Yakubu said that proposal would be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and legislation in due course.

He said that the proposal for amendment was part of the commission’s efforts to curb electoral malpractices in the country.

“We are also looking at some of our guidelines and manual to see what changes are needed in the light of recent experience,” Yakubu said.
He added that work had also commenced on the commission’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2021, including the Election Project Plan and the tracking mechanism.

“This will be concluded by December 2016, well ahead of the general elections in 2019.”

The INEC Chairman attributed the high cost of organising elections to required number of personnel to be deployed as well as issues relating to litigations.

He explained that in Rivers, where a re-run election was conducted in March, INEC had to deploy 24,000 ad-hoc staff to the 4,444 polling units with 1,319 voting points.

“Eighty per cent of the cost (of Rivers Re-run election) went into the payment of allowances and logistics such as transportation.

“Each and every case that goes to court, INEC is joined and we have to hire lawyers.

“From the last general elections to date, we have been taken to court over 700 times. In fact, in the last one week alone, we have been dragged to court at least 12 times.”

Yakubu also disclosed that the commission had conducted 127 elections in the last six months since the 2015 general elections.

He said INEC had conducted 50 re-run elections in 16 states in obedience to court orders as well as seven by-elections, occasioned by death or resignation in five states.

He added that the commission has 31 more elections to conduct from the 2015 nullified elections, in addition to the forthcoming end of tenure elections for governorship in Edo and Ondo states.

The chairman, however, reiterated the Commission’s resolve to conduct transparent, free and fair elections in the country.

He insisted that the Commission would never conclude any election for its own sake.

Yakubu said that many of the challenges slowing INEC down were due to the culture of “do-or-die politics.”

“INEC is determined to conduct credible elections and conclude them according to the law.

“We will not, we will never conclude any election for its own sake. All elections must be concluded according the law, processes and procedures, no matter what criticism we take.

“This nation has yearned for free, fair and credible elections and this is our commitment to this country and the process.”