Bill for polls in one day passes second reading

A bill for the amendment of the Electoral Act to provide for the conduct of the general election in one day was yesterday passed for ‘Second Reading’ in the House of Representatives.

The intention of the bill is for presidential, governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly elections to hold in one day.

Following it’s passage for second reading, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Electoral Matters, which is expected to conduct a public hearing on it and the other electoral amendment bills before the House.

The sponsor of the bill, Franscis Waive (APC Delta), said conducting the polls in a day will reduce cost and the band wagon effect associated with elections.

He said the amendment became necessary because of the litigations associated with the 2023 general election.

Waive said the 2022 Electoral Act was enacted by the National Assembly to ensure the credibility of the electoral process and ensure that the results of polls are acceptable to Nigerians.

He said there was the need to correct some obvious defects in the law and get the nation prepared for future polls.

Waive said Section 10 (3) of the 2022 Electoral Act should be amended to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organise a full-scale voter registration every 10 years and the continuous registration of those who clocked 18.

He said the amendment to the section became necessary as the revalidation by the commission at intervals is not enough to remove those not eligible to be on the voters register.

Waive said the current system of revalidation cannot give Nigerians a clean register.

The legislator maintained that conducting elections on two separate days had put so much pressure on the Nigerians and their businesses because the country is always shut down.

Waive said: “If the country can conduct three elections in one day, we can also conduct the five elections on the same day.”

He also proposed an amendment to Section 60 of the Act, which deals with the electronic transmission of election results, saying the current provisions have some loopholes which were exploited by litigants after the 2023 elections.

He said the provision in the law should be made more specific to allow the Presiding Officer transmit electronically election results and accreditation process.

He said the National Assembly should not make laws that are vague.

Waive lamented the frivolous cases arising from last year’s elections, saying: “Some people had more than three cases at the tribunal and they had to pursue these cases to the last.

“You find out that someone who got 1,000 votes will be going to court to challenge someone who scored 60,000 votes and you wonder what he intends to gain.

“Some governorship cases went up to the Supreme Court. The law should impose heavy fine on those who bring frivolous petitions before the courts. This will discourage such act, thereby reducing the cost of elections”.

Supporting the amendment, Jossy Onuakalosi (LP, Lagos) said the National Assembly should ensure a credible process whereby representatives are elected during elections in a way that the courts would not have to upturn them.

He also said the law should be amended to address delay associated with the announcement of election results, adding that electronic transmission of results will trigger litigations.

Also contributing, Aliyu Sani Madaki (NNPP, Kano) faulted the provision that disqualify eligible voters who are not accredited as a result of failure of the machine.

He said eligible voters should not be punished for the malfunction of machine, which is the fault of the electoral commission.

Madaki said the law should ensure that such people are allowed to vote.

However, Waive disagreed with Madaki, saying that if such is allowed, it may be abused.

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