June 11, 2024

Bill to punish electoral officers for result cancellation passes 2nd reading in House of Reps

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A bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to prohibit the cancellation of election results due to over-voting by electoral officers has passed a second reading in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Abubakar Fulata, who sponsored the bill while leading debate on the general principle of the bill on the floor of the House in Abuja, called for punishment of erring electoral officers.

He said, “Equally important is the need to punish the presiding officer who allowed himself or herself to be used to perpetrate fraud and injustice.”

According to him, this bill seeks to amend sections 51 (2) and deletion of sections 51(3) and 51(4) as well as sections 84 (8).

“As it stands, the provisions of sections 51(2) (3) and (4) seem to deliberately target legitimate winners of elections instead of the criminally minded individuals who connive with custodians of electoral materials to cancel their votes.”

He said that as the custodians of electoral materials, the clause was needed for deterrence.

He said that even if it was presumed that the individual who added the votes was not known, the winner of the election in a particular unit could not be party to a deliberate act that would invalidate their votes.

“Most of the time, candidates target the strong holes of their opponents leveraging on the provisions of this section to add one or two votes to discredit the outcomes of the elections in those polling units
This, he said, was to create an advantage for the losers.

Some of the lawmakers who spoke also agreed with the bill, adding that it was time to punish officers for aiding the cancellation of results.

When the Deputy Speaker, Rep Benjamin Kalu who presided over plenary, put it to vote, the Bill was unanimously agreed on and passed for a second reading.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Electoral Matters for further legislative actions.