Amendment Bill on Electoral Malpractice Ready for Public Hearing – Omo-Agege

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege has revealed that he has introduced a bill for the comprehensive amendment of the Electoral Act No. 6 of 2010.

Omo-Agege, who made the disclosure at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Stakeholders Forum on Elections, organised by the coalition of more than 70 civil societies in Abuja said the bill, co-sponsored the lawmaker representing Borno North Senatorial District, with Sen. Abubakar Kyari was now making its way to public hearing, having scaled Second Reading with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.

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This he said is a decisive response to a plethora of Supreme Court’s decision inviting the National Assembly to make sensible amendments to the Electoral Act.

“And I believe it is responsible for us to take the apex court’s constructive guidance on issues that fundamentally affect our democracy.

“This apart, Section 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, specifically and expressly empowers INEC to “issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effects to the provisions of this Act and for its administration thereof.

“The pervasive non-compliance with the Guidelines, Regulations, and Manuals, would carry clear consequences for people who think violating electoral due process is a rewarding exercise.

“The proposed Bill to amend the Electoral Act would focus on resolving issues surrounding INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters,” he explained.

Omo-Agege further explained that the bill would also mandate INEC to publish the Voters’ Register for public scrutiny at every Registration Area and on its website, at least seven days before a general election.

According to him, the new Act if signed into law would also mandate INEC to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that loses its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.

He also said that the bill would grant agents of political parties the right to inspect original electoral materials before the commencement of the election, define over-voting to include situations where “total votes cast also exceed the total number of accredited voters’’.

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Omo-Agege also said greater clarity and transparency would be achieved in the process of reaching the final announcement of election results, starting with sorting of ballots, counting of votes among others.

According to him, the bill would mandate INEC to record and keep relevant detailed information of results sheets, ballot papers and other sensitive electoral materials used in an election, with clear consequences for violation.

He said the bill also provided sanctions for giving false information on registration of a political party, and that failure by INEC and others to comply with any provision of the Act carried clear and adequate sanctions.

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