The Senate has empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the procedure for the transmission of results during the general elections.
This was just as it approved direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions.
The amendments were made on Tuesday by the Senate to some clauses of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) bill 2021, passed on July 15, 2021.
The chamber explained that the decision to subject the amended clauses of the bill to re-committal was reached after critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC.
The chamber added that some fundamental issues which required fresh legislative action were observed by the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led Committee in the bill.
Accordingly, the chamber in a motion for re-committal, re-amended certain aspects of the bill contained in Clauses 43, 52, 63 and 87, respectively.
The upper chamber in Clause 52 of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed almost three months ago, had approved that “the Commission (INEC) may consider the electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
The Senate, however, on Tuesday amended the clause when the bill was subjected to re-committal to provide that, “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.”
The chamber also approved Clause 87 to read “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.”
Members of the Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, are expected to meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to harmonise the two versions passed by both chambers.
Meanwhile, former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has commended the Senate for reversing itself on electronic transmission of results, saying it was a huge victory for the nation’s democracy.
Ekweremadu said the Senate’s action justified his assurances to Nigerians in July that all hope was not lost for electronic transmission of 2023 election results despite the initial setback.
In a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu said: “I want to specially commend the Senate for setting aside narrow partisan interests to correct the mistake of July 15, 2021 by reversing itself on the issue of electronic transmission of election results.
“This clause, though not originally part of the Bill, was introduced by the Joint National Assembly Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, which I am part of, to save the nation the troubles of ballot box snatching, electoral violence, and manipulations that happen between the polling booth and collation centres.
“Although I was representing Nigeria at an international parliamentary session in Montenegro and therefore unavoidably absent during the passage of the Bill in July, I had assured Nigerians that we would work with the progressives across party lines to dialogue with our colleagues and other critical stakeholders to ensure that electronic transmission of results was restored in the Bill.
“It is, therefore, heart-warming that my confidence in the capacity of my colleagues to dialogue and rise above narrow partisan interest on this matter was not misplaced.
“I must also commend the Civil Society Organisations and Nigerians for standing up for what is right for the nation and our democracy”.
It is recalled that Ekweremadu had in a statement by his media aide on July 17, 2021 assured Nigerians that the “results of the 2023 elections will ultimately be electronically transmitted because it is the best way to go”.