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Senator divided over electronic voting

The Senate on Tuesday passed for second reading, three separate bills seeking various amendments to the Electoral Act 2010.

The bills which were sponsored by Senators Ike Ekweremadu, Abu Ibrahim, and Alkali Jajere, seek to determine the tenure of the office of the Secretary to the board of Independent National Electoral Commission and removal of INEC chairman’s powers to appoint the Secretary to the board.

The amendments are also seeking powers for INEC to issue duplicate voter cards before election, determine voting proceedure, holding of elections on a single day, and cause the electoral body to conduct debate for all candidates who are contesting election into the office of president.

Apart from this, the ammendments seek the conduct of general election, six months before the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent while bye-election should be held twice in a year.

Most of the senators in their contributions after the sponsors had presented their lead debates, expressed divided views on the issue of electronic voting.

Some of the contributors supported the use of biometric system of election arguing that it will eliminate, ballot manipulation and snatching of ballot boxes on election day.

Others, however rejected the idea stressing that the nation was does not have the required infrastructure to make the system work.

For instance, Senator Ahmed Lawan, said since the INEC had declared that the commission was not ready for electronic voting, the agency should not be compelled to do what it does not have the capacity to do.

In their submissions, Senators Eyinnaya Abaribe, Victor Ndoma – Egba, Matthew Nwagwu said electronic voting will make elections in Nigeria more credible.

Senator Barnabas Gemade, supported the conduct of elections in one day to minimise cost but Senator Ayogu Eze noted that the arrangement cannot work.

Senate President, David Mark, said the essence of the ammendments was to ensure that INEC conduct credible election that will be acceptable to all Nigerians to reduce litigation.

He also described the appointment of INEC secretary by the Chairman of the commission as a misnomer and said the practice had yet to be corrected before now because the senate failed to carry out its oversight in that direction.

The upper chamber therefore committed the bills to its Committees on INEC and Constitution Review for appropriate legislative actions.

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