Electoral Act: Trouble Looms In Senate As Panel Rejects Electronic Transfer

According to a report by The PUNCH, there may be a stormy session on the floor of the Senate during plenary on Tuesday as senators are set to receive and debate the provisions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Kabiru Gaya, is expected to lay his panel’s report at plenary.

However, an investigation by our correspondent revealed that some senators from the southern part of Nigeria are spoiling for a showdown with some of their northern colleagues over the INEC panel’s report.

One of the senators from the South, who is also a principal officer, told our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Saturday, that some powerful members of the INEC panel had inserted “a danger clause” into the report.

He specifically said that the report of the committee barred the INEC from transmitting results of elections by electronic means.

He said, “If they want war, we are ready for them because the only thing that could make our elections to be credible is through the electronic transfer of results.

“There was electronic transfer of results during the Edo State governorship election and that was why the poll was very credible.

“Those who are opposed to the electronic transfer of results are preparing to rig the 2023 general elections.”

But another principal officer from the northern part of the country who also spoke on condition of anonymity, justified the reason for barring INEC from transmitting results by electronic means.

The Senator said, “There will be gross injustice if we allow the INEC to transmit results electronically because most parts of the north are not enjoying efficient network service from the telecommunications companies.

“Take for example, the North-East geopolitical zone where Boko Haram insurgents had destroyed the masts of the service providers, how do you want the issue of electronic transfer to be possible?”

A careful observation of the amended Electoral Act reveals that Section 50 (2) states that INEC could make use of electronic voting but should not transfer the results by electronic means.

The section reads, “Voting at an election under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the commission, which may include electronic voting, provided that the Commission shall not transmit results of elections by electronic means.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Senate, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, said he would not make any comment on the development.

Basiru said, “Since the provision has not been considered at the Senate I have no comment.”

Sunday PUNCH had early last month, reported that the plan to save the nation’s electoral process from malpractices by making card reader and electronic transfer of results compulsory during polls, was generating controversy in the Senate.

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