The National Assembly on Tuesday said it had amended and harmonised the Fourth Electoral Amendment bill and also taken care of concerns that made President Muhammadu Buhari to reject the document.
Buhari had last month pointed out some issues which he said infringed on the powers of the Executive and asked the National Assembly to look into them and take necessary action.
The National Assembly took the step to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission and make the 2019 elections fee and fair.
Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Suleiman Nazif (PDP, Bauchi North), told journalists in Abuja that issues raised by Buhari had been taken care of.
He spoke after a meeting of the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Electoral and Political Matters, where they agreed to amend and adopt the 14 clauses in the 2018 Electoral Amendment Bill.
Nazif enumerated the 14 consolidated amendments to include sections 9(1A), 9(B5), 18(1.4), 19(4), 30(1), 31(1.1), 31(7), 34(2-4 deleted) and 36(3) as amended. Others are; 44(3,4), 67(a, b, c, d 6-9), 87(2), 87(14) and 112(4).
The explanatory memorandum reads: “This Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act No.6, 2010 to make provisions for the restriction of the qualification for elective office to relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); use of Card Readers and other technological devices in election and Political Party Primaries, to provide a time line for the submission of list of candidates, criteria for substitution of candidates, limit of campaign expenses, and address the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties.”
Meanwhile, Section 9(1A) deals with the commission keeping the Register of Voters in electronic format in manual form, printed paper-based record or hard copy format in its central database, just as Section 9(B5) has to do with the register of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters which shall stop not later than 30 days before any election covered by the Act. Section 18(1) deals with loss of Voter’s card and replacement, just as Section 36(3) has to do with, if after the commencement of poll and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, the leading candidate dies, the Commission shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days.
Nazif, who explained that the joint committee came up with additional amendments, based on the draft submitted by the executive arm, however, stressed that the first Electoral Amendment Bill which addressed the issue of sequence of elections, also made provision for card reader as well as the powers of the National Assembly to legislate for local government councils, which the President declined assent.
He said also that the card reader had never been the issue, as it was never deleted from the Bill, stressing that the entire process was designed to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as deepen the nation’s democracy.