Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Political Parties Matters, Ms Aishatu Dukku has said that the 2020 Electoral Bill if passed will further empower the Commission. She said INEC would now be validly empowered by law to use card readers and other technologies to conduct elections. Dukku, who sponsored
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Political Parties Matters, Ms Aishatu Dukku has said that the 2020 Electoral Bill if passed will further empower the Commission.
She said INEC would now be validly empowered by law to use card readers and other technologies to conduct elections.
Dukku, who sponsored the bill, spoke while briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
She said card reader would be used for accreditation while other appropriate technologies would be used to transmit results.
The lawmaker said that it was expedient to amend the electoral law in other to deepen the nation’s democracy, adding that the bill would also help to regulate the Federal, State and local government polls.
According to her, the amendment has become necessary because of the flaws observed in the nation’s elections, noting that there are some lacuna in the current law that needed to be amended.
“A case in point is when a candidate dies when the election is almost concluded like it happened in Kogi governorship election in 2016”.
Recall that the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Abubakar Audu, had died while the election result was about to be announced.
Dakku said the Senate, House of Representatives, the Judiciary and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were on the same page with the new electoral bill.
She said this was to forestall a repeat of what happened during the Eighth National Assembly (NASS) when President Muhammadu Buhari refused to give his assent to the electoral bill.
She said the current NASS was poised to produce a clean copy of the electoral bill, adding that after the second reading, the bill would be subjected to public hearing for Nigerians to have input.
Dakku said the public would be carried along to reduce the time spent on working on the bill.
She said the 2020 Electoral Bill stipulates a maximum of N5 billion that could be spent by a presidential candidate and N1 billion by a governorship candidate.
Also, N100 million and N70 million for senatorial and House of Representatives candidates respectively.
Dakku said N30 million was the limit to be spent by a chairmanship candidate and N5 million by a councilorship candidate.
Apart from pegging expenses for presidential to N5 billion, aspirants will have to spend less. For instance, the bill recommends a maximum N10 million as fee for the presidential nomination form.
Apart from campaign expenditure and nomination fees, the proposed law highlights key electoral issues like electronic voting, mode of conducting primaries by the parties, use of incident forms, election petitions, death and replacement of candidates as well as registration of new political parties.
The draft bill is to repeal the Electoral Act No.6, 2020 (as amended and to enact the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2020.
Primarily, the draft that originated from INEC seeks to regulate the conduct of federal, states and local council elections.
According to the document, the high cost of nomination fees limits the political space only to politicians with deep financial pockets.
In the bill, governorship candidates are not to spend more N1 billion on campaigns; senatorial aspirants (N100 million); House of Representatives candidates (N70 million); House of Assembly candidates (N30 million); local government chairmanship candidates (N30 million) and councillorship candidates (N5 million).
Governorship nomination forms will not sell for more than N5 million; senatorial (N2 million); House of Representatives, N1 million; House of Assembly (N500, 000); local government chairmanship (N250, 000) and councillorship (N150, 000).
When passed into law and signed, parties that contravene the law will be sanctioned by the INEC.
The proposed law however said: “In determining the total expenditure incurred in relation to the candidate of any person at any election, no account shall be taken of any deposit made by the candidate on his nomination in compliance with the law; any expenditure incurred before the notification of the date fixed for the election with respect to services rendered or materials supplied before such notification; or political party expenses in respect of the candidate for a particular election.”
Section 52 (2) of the proposed law allows INEC to adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may seem fit.
A part of the draft focusing on the death of a candidate in an election reads: “If after that commencement of the polls and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a candidate dies, the Commission shall, being satisfied with the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days.
“The political party whose candidate dies may if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit the name of a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate; and subject to paragraph a and b of this subsection, the Commission (INEC) shall continue with the election, announce the final results and declare a winner.”
When passed and assented, the new law will no longer permit the use of incident form in places where smart card readers fail to work.
“Where a smart card reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any unit and a fresh card reader is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours,” the proposed law recommended.
On mode of conducting primaries, the draft law stated: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this act shall hold direct or indirect primaries or aspirants to elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission (INEC) and the results of the primaries may be endorsed or certified by the Commission.
“A political party shall not impose nomination qualification or disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any aspirants or candidates for any election in its constitution, guideline or rules for nomination of candidate for elections, except as prescribed under Sections 65, 66, 106, 107,131, 137, 177 and 187 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
“Any requirement, criteria, measures or conditions for the nomination of candidates for elections outside the provisions of subsection 2 or 3 of this section shall be invalid.”
Also, in an apparent bid to reduce litigation expenses, the proposed law said it is no longer necessary for parties challenging the outcomes of elections to call oral evidence during the hearing of their petition.
It said: “It is necessary for a party who alleges non-compliance with the provisions of this Act and the published manuals, guidelines, regulations or procedures issued by the Commission for the conduct of elections to call oral evidence of originals or certified true copies of Electoral documents or materials used by the Commission(INEC) to conduct the election in the polling unit(s) where the non-compliance is alleged are listed in a petition and tendered at the trial of the petition in proof of the non-compliance complained of.
“Where the Commission (INEC) refuses and or neglects to issue a certificate of return, a certified true copy of the order of a court of competent jurisdiction shall, ipso facto, be sufficient for the purpose of swearing in a candidate declared as the winner by the court.”
For registration of new political parties, the proposed law said “any political association that complies with the provisions of the constitution and this act for the purpose of registration shall be registered as a political party, provided however that such application for registration as a political party shall be duly submitted to the Commission not later than 12 months before the general election.
“A political association that meets the conditions stipulated in the constitution and this act shall be registered by the Commission as a political party within 60 days from the date of the receipt of such application, and if after 60 days such association is not registered by the Commission, unless the Commission informed the association to the contrary, it shall be deemed to have been registered.”