The Nigerian Senate has rejected Clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill that provided for electronic transfer of election results. The rejection on Thursday during plenary, saw the Senate go into a closed session after the rowdiness could not be contained.
After the closed-door session, senators resorted to voting after they called for division.The Committee had in its report, recommended in Section 52(3) that, INEC “may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”
But an APC Senator from Niger North, Sabi Abdullahi, amended the clause to read, “INEC may consider electronic collation of results, provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secured by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
Members of the Committee on Communications had earlier informed the chamber that the NCC had declared that only 43 percent of the country was currently under effective telecommunications coverage.
Senate President, Ibrahim Lawan, ruled in favour of the amendment when he conducted a voice vote.
There was a disagreement and the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, called for a division which would require individual voting on the floor.
Lawan sustained Abaribe’s point of order and called for a division.
The clause, which led to the division of the Chamber, saw 52 Senators voting against the clause, 28 other Senators were in support of the clause, while 28 senators were not available to vote.
In all, 52 APC senators, including the Chairman of the Senate INEC Committee, Kabiru Gaya, voted against the panel’s report, which gives the electoral umpire the sole power to determine the practicability of electronic transmission of results.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, abstained from voting.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members on the floor all voted in favour of electronic transmission of results by INEC without interference from either the NCC or the National Assembly.
The APC members, while casting their votes against the amendment, attributed their decision to the claim of the NCC that only 43 percent of the country has network coverage.
The PDP senators, on the other hand, said allowing the NCC and the National Assembly to meddle in the affairs of INEC will affect the integrity of the polls.