The National Assembly is now set to include provisions for the electronic transmission of election results in the Electoral Amendment bill.
This follows pressure from Nigerians after reports by PREMIUM TIMES and others that the lawmakers took out that clause from the legislation.
It is also not unrelated to the “over 900 distress text messages” that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, received from Nigerians accusing him and his colleagues of manipulating details of the bill to their favour.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the lawmakers had attempted to reject and omit proposals and key priority amendments canvassed by citizens during the public hearings – some of which include the use of electronic transmission of results of an election and expenses for presidential candidates.
Section 50(2) of the previous draft read: “Voting in 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.”
However, in the new draft which the lawmakers are set to pass later today (Thursday), a new Section, 49, was modified to include electronic transmission of results.
“Voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission,” read the new version presented at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Although this clause does not clearly mention the use of electronic transmission of result, it however, gives INEC the power to decide which method to use. And the electoral umpire has on several occasions, canvassed for electronic transmission of results.
In the amended bill obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, INEC is also given the powers to review results declared by an electoral officer under duress.
Section 65 of the initial draft proposed that “the decision of the Returning Officer shall be final on any question arising from or relating to unmarked ballot paper, rejected ballot paper and declaration of scores of a candidate.” – a part of the bill that many Nigerians have kicked against.
This provision strips INEC of powers to decline issuing a certificate of return to a candidate where the Returning Officer was forced to declare him or her the winner or where the Returning Officer made an announcement under duress.
But in the new draft, Section 64(1) has been modified to read “the decision of the Returning Officer shall be final on any question arising from or relating to unmarked ballot paper, rejected ballot paper and declaration of scores of candidates and the return of a candidate…
“Provided that the Commission shall have the power within seven days to review the declaration and return where the Commission determines that the said declaration and return was not made voluntarily or was made contrary to the provisions of the Law, Regulations and Guidelines, and Manual for the election.
While Section 64(2) reads, “a decision of the Returning Officer or the Commission under subsection (1) may be reviewed by a Tribunal or Court in an election petition proceedings under this bill.”
The limit of election spending was also reviewed in the new draft seen by this paper.
The new version on spending limit proposed in Section 88 of the bill now allows presidential candidates to increase their cash haul from the current N1 billion to N5 billion while governorship candidates can rake in N1 billion from the hitherto N2 million.
For senatorial candidates, they can now legally raise N100 million from the previous N40 million, while candidates to the House of Representative can now accept N70 million from the current N30 million. And for State Assembly, candidates are now free to call up N30 million from the previous N10 million.
Details of the new draft will be considered and passed at Thursday’s plenary and Nigerians are optimistic that the new Electoral Amendment bill will restore the hopes for key electoral reforms in subsequent elections.
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