By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate has set up a Conference Committee to harmonize positions on the Electoral Act Amendments Bill.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who announced this Wednesday during plenary, said that the conference Committee will work with that of the House of Representatives in order to be on the same page on Electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
According to Lawan, Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, APC, Kebbi North will be the leader of the team.
Other members are Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South to represent North West; Danjuma Goje, APC, Gombe Central for North East; Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central for South East; Sani Mohammed Musa, APC, Niger East for North Central; Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central for South West and Matthew Urhoghide, PDP, Edo South.
Recall that of the seven members for the Conference, while only Senator Urhoghide voted YES Electronic transmission of election results, Senator Ekwunife was absent during the voting time and the other five members who are of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC voted NO for electronic transmission of election results.
The Senate was before its annual recess thrown into confusion and uproar as Senators considered the Report of the Electoral Bill, 2021 which is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Act No.6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections.
Provisions of clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act ( Amendment ) Bill 2021 sharply divided the Senators across party lines during consideration of the entire report.
The Senators then considered the report that has 158 clauses, just as the Senate conceded the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC that will now transmit results of election rather than the latter.
Trouble started when after the presentation of the report by the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South read the report and the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North moved for an amendments of clause 52(3).
The clause which as recommended by the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) provides for electronic transmission of election results by INEC where and when practicable was rejected by an amendment raised by Sabi Abdullahi.
Senator Abdullahi in calling for the amendment through a point of order, added a provision that such electronic transmission of results by INEC should be subjected to certification of Network coverage by the Nigerian Communication Commission ( NCC) .
The original 52(3) as contained in the report under consideration read, “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”
But in his amendment to the content as contained in the clause, Senator Sabi Abdullahi said, ” The Commission may consider electronic transmission of results provided that the National coverage as adjudged by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and approved by the National Assembly.”
The amended version adopted by the Senate after voice votes and votes counted during division states : ” INEC may consider electronic transmission of results provided the National Network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communication Commission ( NCC)”.
The House of Representatives had agreed on where and where practicable.