Senate begins Electoral Act review, to include card readers

senate-750x400The Senate yesterday passed for second reading a bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act to accommodate the use of card readers and other pertinent issues.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly, after considering the bill sponsored by Tijjani Kaura (APC Zamfara North), directed its committee on INEC to conduct a public hearing and report back in four weeks.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, directed the committee to also explore other issues that require immediate attention.

“It is important that we amend the Act now, the longer we delay it, the more difficult it would become.

“Once we start getting into the electoral arena, it becomes more and more difficult,” he added.

Sarki also charged the panel to come up with amendments that would be easy to implement so as not to create more ‘lacunae’ in the electoral process.

Earlier, Kaura stressed the need for the amendment in view of the challenges witnessed during the last generation elections, especially with the card readers.

According to him, the facility is not captured in the Electoral Act 2010, necessitating recent rulings of the Supreme Court on the gubernatorial elections.

He enthused that its inclusion would further discourse in the future.

Supporting the bill, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu, recalled that an amendment to Act was passed by the seventh Senate but was not assented to by the President.

Also speaking, the Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, who urged that the amendments be made flexible, maintained that it was not possible for the parliament to see every conceivable lacuna in the legislation.

In his contribution, Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central) said he would support the exercise provided that the facility would not favour one region of the country over the other.

However, Foster Ogola (PDP Bayelsa West) vehemently opposed the move, saying it contravenes certain sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

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