Deadlock as Senate suspends amendment on Electoral Act

Senators divided over substitution of dead presidential, governorship candidates

SENATORS were, on Wednesday, sharply divided on an amendment bill to provide for substitution of any presidential or governorship candidate before the declaration of results by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The lawmakers had set out to amend Electoral Act 2010 to provide for the substitution of a dead governorship or presidential candidate before the announcement of election result with the first runner-up in the party’s primaries, but a sharp division crept in.

While a section of the senators supported the idea, others insisted that since the candidate was not complete without his running mate, the running mate should automatically replace a dead candidate.

Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who submitted a report on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters (S.B.231 and S.B.234), said the committee combined the two bills because they covered aspects of the electoral process.

But there was deadlock as the Senate attempted to introduce a new subsection three to section 36 of the Electoral Act 2010, as senators could not agree on the way forward.

The new amendment was seeking to provide for substitution of a candidate of a party who dies before the declaration of the result of an election with the first runner up in the party’s primaries (which produced the deceased candidate).

The proposed Section 3 read: “If after the commencement of poll and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a nominated candidate dies, the chief National Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, proceed with the election, after allowing the political party whose candidate died to substitute the late candidate with the person who scored the next highest number of lawful votes in the primaries won by the deceased candidate, as if the substituted person was the candidate originally nominated by that party.”

The amendment was intended to fill the lacuna created following the death of Alhaji Abubakar Audu in the process of the last Kogi governorship polls.

But other senators objected to the development and insisted that the running mate to the late candidate should be used to replace him.

The irreconcilable differences forced the lawmakers to suspend the amendment.

The Senate, thereafter, referred the report to INEC committee for further legislative action and consultations.