Election observer group, Yiaga Africa, has asked the National Assembly to adopt the House of Representatives’ version of the Electoral Amendment bill – which allows for electronic transmission of results in an election.
To this effect, the group also asked the parliament to immediately constitute the conference committee that will deliberate on the provisions of the bill.
Yiaga Africa made the call at a Stakeholders’ Reflection Roundtable on Electoral Reforms on Friday.
At the event, the group highlighted major provisions of the bill passed by both chambers of the National Assembly in July.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the lawmakers passed the legislation amid chaos and disagreement in the chamber.
The bill seeks to resolve issues concerning INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters, electronic voting, and electronic transmission of results from polling units.
A controversial provision in the bill is Section 52, which deals with electronic transmission of results of elections – a major recommendation from Nigerians including INEC.
In the bill passed by the Senate, the Section was changed from; “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable” to;
“The commission may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
The House, however, retained the former.
It is one of a few disparities in the versions passed by the Senate and the House.
The lawmakers are expected to set up a joint committee to consider and harmonise the differences.
Yiaga Africa, however, recommended that Section 52 of the House version be adopted by the panel.
In a presentation, the group’s Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, urged the committee to adopt the Senate’s version of Clause 43 that recognises “voting devices” alongside election materials.
“The committee at conference should adopt: the Senate version of Clause 49 that recognises “other technological devices” alongside Smart Card Readers for voter accreditation.
“The House version of Clause 52 that gives INEC the power to determining the procedure for voting and transmission of elections results. The Senate proposal is problematic and unconstitutional.
“The Senate version of Clauses 63 and 76 which increases the penalty for sanctioning a presiding officer who contravenes the Electoral Act with respect to counting of and accounting for votes, announcement of results.”
The Senate’s spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, also expressed worry over Section 52 as passed by the Senate.
The lawmaker described the provisions as nebulous, vague, and one that should be deliberated. This is even as he promised thorough scrutiny of the different versions passed by the Senate and House.
Participants who represented agencies and civic groups also admonished the lawmakers to reconsider their positions on certain suggestions made by citizens at the public hearing.
The committee was mandated to make decisions in line with citizens’ demands in adopting amendments where both chambers adopted different version towards transparent and credible elections.
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