New Electoral Bill ready for passage, National Assembly says

The National Assembly has said the new Electoral Bill was ready and would be passed upon resumption for plenary.

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo Agege, made the disclosure when the Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters received a draft copy of the report submitted by a technical panel.

Checks revealed that the Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters is expected to adopt a final document this weekend for presentation to both chambers for consideration and approval.

Giving an insight into the new Bill, the senator representing Delta Central revealed that while not usurping the functions of the State Independent Electoral Commission, the proposed Bill, which seeks to repeal the Electoral Act, 2010 made the use of card reader mandatory as done in conduct of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

He said: “One of the most important provisions to me is the Second Schedule of the constitution dealing with local government elections, which hitherto had never been within the remit of INEC. But we believe that we need to have the system sanitised by also mandating the application of the Electoral Act to the conduct of local government elections.

“We all know based on the law, INEC is the only body authorised to maintain a voters register. And there is no way you are going to be conducting elections without a voters register. So the State Independent Electoral Commissions are already resorting to INEC for the use of the voters register.

“So what we are just saying is that in addition to that, also use the Electoral Act and request the card readers from INEC in the conduct of local government elections. And that does not in any way take away their independence.

“We know under Section 7, it is their remit clearly but here we are saying we are only dealing with procedure not the substantive law. Even under Second Schedule, they also can make their laws to the extent that it is not inconsistent with the laws passed by the National Assembly. So, this is very critical. If nothing else, what you have done is very critical and the entire country will be grateful for the work you have done.

“In addition to that is the issue of the card reader. It was always your (INEC) intervention. It has worked but before now, we have not given it legal framework. With this right now, that issue is going to be settled for good.”

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