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Hope for electronic voting as electoral reform bill passes second reading in Senate

Despite Police/DSS effort 15 Senators dump APC enmass

The Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed Wednesday scaled through its second reading at the Nigerian Senate.

The bill which was read for the first time on October 29, seeks to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accommodate new technologies in the accreditation of voters during elections.

It is titled: “A bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters, 2019 (SB. 122)”, was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC- Delta) and co-sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC-Borno).

It also seeks the reduction of nomination fees charged by political parties and granting of party agents the right to inspect original electoral materials before the commencement of polls.

The bill also seeks to make the electoral body to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that lost its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.

It also prohibits members of political parties from taking up employment in INEC and compelling of INEC to publish the voter register for public scrutiny at every registration area and on its website seven days before a general election, among others.

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In his lead debate, Senator Omo-Agege pointed out that the bill was in fulfilment of the legislative agenda of the 9th Senate in the area of electoral reforms.

According to him, the proposed law will not only strengthen the nation’s electoral process in line with global best practices, but it will also remove the lacuna in the current electoral law.

In their separate contributions, senators who supported the bill included: Michael Nnachi (PDP-Ebonyi South), Abba Moro (PDP- Benue South) and Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun Central).

They stressed the need for the Ninth Assembly to fast track approval of the bill and not repeat mistakes of the Eighth Assembly where it was passed on the eve of the last General Election, hence did not receive presidential assent.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the session, put the question to voice vote and it was unanimously approved.

He, thereafter, referred the bill to the Committee on INEC for further legislative input and urged them to report back in four weeks.

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