By G9ija

Members of the Senate on Tuesday made a series of adjustments to the Electoral Act during the plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

This follows a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, for the re-Committal of some Clauses of the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) to the Committee of the Whole.

They are Clause 43, Clause 52, Clause 63, and Clause 87.

During a debate on the motion, some lawmakers disagreed with the provisions of some subsections in the affected clauses of the Act.

Thereafter, the Senate resolved into Committee of the Whole to consider the report Clause by Clause, after which the lawmakers reverted to plenary to report progress.

The lawmakers, in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary, considered and approved Clause 43 (as recommended), Clause 52 (as amended), Clause 63 (as recommended), and Clause 87 (as amended).

This led to the passage of the Electoral Act No. 6 2010 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 122) after it was read the third time on the floor of the Senate chamber.

When signed into law by the President, the amendments by the lawmakers will allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of election results transmission, among others.

The amendments to the Act are highlighted below:

Clause 43: Ballot boxes and voting devices

Subsection 1:

Old: The Commission shall provide suitable boxes or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.

New: The Commission shall provide suitable boxes, electronic voting machine or any other voting device for the conduct of elections.

Subsection 3:

Old: The Polling Agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.

New: The Polling Agents shall be entitled to be present at the distribution of the election materials, electronic voting machine and voting devices from the office to the polling booth.

Clause 52: Conduct of poll by open secret ballot

Subsection 2:

Old: Voting at an election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting.

New: 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 the Commission.

Subsection 3 was deleted while Subsection 4 was renumbered as Subsection 3.

Clause 63: Counting of votes and forms

Subsection 5:

Old: The Presiding officer shall transmit the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.

New: The Presiding officer shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.

Clause 87: Nomination of candidates by parties.

Subsection 1:

Old: A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold direct or indirect primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which may be monitored by the Commission.

New: “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”.

Subsections 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were deleted, new Subsections 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 were inserted, while Subsections 8 and 9 were renumbered. The newly inserted subsections are:

Subsection 3The procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties for the various elective positions by direct primaries shall ensure that all aspirants are given equal opportunity of being voted for by members of the party and given opportunity to have agents for the purpose of monitoring the primaries.

Subsection 4The procedure adopted for the direct primaries shall be spelt out in a guideline to be issued by the political party and filed with the Commission at least 14 days before the primary election.

Subsection 5A political party shall maintain register of its members and provide in the guideline for the conduct of the primaries that the register of its members shall be used for accreditation for the primaries.

Subsection 6The Commission shall deploy personnel to monitor the primaries in all the centres where the direct primaries are held.

Subsection 7Every aspirant cleared by the party to contest at the primary not later than fourteen days to the primary shall be entitled to a copy of the guideline for the conduct of the primaries in which he or she is participating.