… Vows to pass new Electoral Act 1st quarter of 2021

Usage of functional card readers for election to take place in each of the 8, 803 polling units in Nigeria is to be made compulsory in future elections, going by new provisions in the new Electoral Act by the National Assembly.


This is as the lawmakers on Wednesday in Abuja, vowed to complete legislative work on the new laws before the end of the first quarter in 2021.


Card readers as an electronic device for accreditation of eligible voters at polling units before voting was introduced in the 2015 general elections but not made compulsory for election to take place in the event of malfunctioning.


The 2010 Electoral Act as amended in 2015 gave room for the usage of manual voters’ registers after filling out the index form.

But in the new electoral laws being worked on by both chambers of the National Assembly, usage of functional card readers for accreditation of voters will be made compulsory in future elections.


Explaining the new provisions, chairman House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon Aishatu Jibril Dukku, at a joint public hearing on the two different legislations, said the new provisions are contained in the amendments being made on section 49 of the 2010 Electoral Act.


According to her, a new subsection (3) is introduced which provides, among others, 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 canceled and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours.


The proposed amendment in section 52(2) states that “in 2015 this section was amended to give INEC the discretion to determine the procedure for voting.


“Now it seeks to further amend the provision to allow the commission to conduct elections by electronic voting or any other method of voting as it may seem fit.”


In his remarks, while declaring the hearing open, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, said the proposed bills, which are on repealing the Electoral Act No 6, 2010, for a more comprehensive one and enacting Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Act 2020, would be passed before the end of the first quarter in 2021.


According to him, more than 85 requests were made by various stakeholders for amendments, which will be critically looked into in giving Nigerians, a more credible electoral process.


In his remark, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said the proposed amendments were very important for both politics and governance in Nigeria.


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