By Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJAâ€”A bill seeking to cancel Federal Governmentâ€™s annual grants to political parties was read for the second time yesterday at the Senate. The bill entitled: ‘For an act to repeal the Electoral Act 2006 and enact the Independence National Electoral Commission Act’ was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and 40 others.
Leading the debate on the bill, Senator Ekweremadu said the new law is tailored towards providing solutions to the nationâ€™s electoral process.
He said, â€œit is important to note that the issue of annual grants to political parties has been widely criticised as some parties are formed merely to collect tax payersâ€™ money in the form of grants from the Independent National Electoral Commission.
â€œThe bill eliminates the provision of grants to political parties provided for in the existing act which we have as well expunged from the Constitution.
â€œThe bill also empowers INEC to monitor both the administrative and financial activities of political parties in order to ensure that few wealthy individuals, foreign agents or interest groups do not control the operations of political parties.â€
The bill also stipulates guidelines for all categories of elections in Nigeria, penalties for election rigging, including fund to be expended by candidate.
Section 10 (5) of the proposed electoral laws provides that registration of voters, updating and revision of the voters register shall stop not later than 120 days before any election covered by the Act.
further more, in the new law, double registration and registration of fictitious names respectively attract not more than N100,000 fine or one year imprisonment or both, while possession of double voters cards attracts N200,000 or two years imprisonment or both.
Section 24(e) stipulates not more than N500,000 fine or two years or both for selling or buying voterâ€™s card, while Section 25(2)(a) stipulates N500,000 fine or five years or both for any person who threatens or hinders registration of eligible voter.