Senate passes Electoral Act Amendment Bill, endorses electronic transmission of results, direct primaries for parties

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The Senate has passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and approved direct primaries for political parties and electronic transmission of results.

The approval was given on Tuesday when the lawmakers resumed plenary after a three-week recess.

The Upper Chamber had constituted a seven-man conference committee to meet with members of the House of Representatives Conference Committee to harmonise the differences in the Senate and House versions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

With the successful harmonisation it means the National Assembly has completed the process of amending the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The House of Representatives is also expected to pass the harmonised bill.

On October 12, the Senate had bowed to pressure and given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the sole power to determine the mode of transmission of results.

This followed the reversal of its earlier decision that INEC may consider the electronic transmission of results “provided national [network] coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure” by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.

Under a new amendment of Clause 52 (2) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the Senate resolved that “voting at an election and transmission of results under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting”.

In his presentation, Senate leader , Senator Abdullahi Yahaya said the Senate version of Clauses 52, 63 and 87 were adopted at the committee.

The clauses read:

-Clause 52(2) 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, which may include electronic voting.

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-Clause 63(5) 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.

87(1) 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.

The lawmaker said the bill is now ready for passage and presidential assent. And that the citizens’ top priorities, including the use of modern technology, have been addressed therein.

The House is expected to approve the report after which a copy will be transmitted to the president for assent.

The National Assembly is expected to Transmit amendment to President Muhammadu Buhari for ascent.

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