The House of Representatives member representing Ughelli North, Ughelli South, and Udu Federal Constituency, Rt Rev (Hon) Francis Ejiroghene Waive, has stated that the new proposal for an amendment to the Electoral Act 2022 would address the gaps in the law which do not promote transparency and credibility in the electoral process.
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday last week passed for second reading, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. This was after debating its general principles.
The bill sponsored by Hon. Waive, among other things, proposed mandatory electronic transmission of results.
At the time of passing the Electoral Bill in 2021, the issue of electronic transmission of election results generated much controversy. While some lawmakers had then proposed that INEC be made to compulsorily transmit election results electronically, others voted that the electoral management body should be given discretionary power on that.
Section 60(5) of the Electoral Act reads: “The presiding officer shall transfer the results including the total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.”
With this provision, INEC had before the 2023 general election, assured that it will transmit results from polling units to its IReV portal for public viewing. However, the Commission failed as promised as the upload of, especially the presidential election results was delayed for days which it blamed on technical glitches.
That challenge, coupled with other irregularities, formed the basis of most presidential election litigation.
However, the Supreme Court while ruling on various petitions, held that non-transmission of polling unit results in real-time did not substantially affect the outcome of the election. The justices further cited the provision in the law which gives INEC discretionary power to decide the mode of collation of results.
Hon. Waive, who appeared on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, said that the amendment if successfully done, will enable the electoral system to completely stop all forms of manipulations done at collation centres and also close gaps in the Electoral Act that give room for various interpretation at law courts which seems to take away the mandate given to a candidate by the electorate in an election.
“I want the Electoral Act to be specific, clear, and precise, that results from every polling unit will be electronically transmitted,” the lawmaker said.
He stated that provisions in the Electoral Act should be clear and not ambiguous.
“In the 2022 Act, the issue of electronic transmission of results was not definite. I think we should not make laws that would be vague,” Waive said.
Waive, who is the Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business said another thing he seeks to achieve with the bill is making voter accreditation mandatory so that it will be “no accreditation, no voting.”
Speaking further on accreditation, the lawmaker said the bill also seeks to see that the law be specific about the means of accreditation which should be with the Biomodal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) and not any other means to be determined by INEC.
Waive added that the bill is also seeking to amend section 28 of the principal act with the proposal that all elections including the Presidential, Senate, House of Representatives, Governors, and State Assemblies are held on the same day to save the cost of running an election.
On registration of voters, the lawmaker said the proposed bill would give INEC the power to conduct fresh registration every 10 years after which old registers are discarded to maintain an updated voter record.
Having passed the second reading, he said the bill has been referred to the House Committee on INEC and Electoral matters for consideration after which there will be a public hearing.