The upper-chamber yesterday passed the Electoral Act Amendment bill for the fourth time after president Buhari on three occasions withheld his assent to the bill as it gives more life to card reader as the only means to which electorates could vote voided filling the accidental form as it were before.
The bill was passed after the adoption of the report by the joint Senate and House of Representatives committee on the bill, which was presented the Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif.
Part of what are the ingredients on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2010 includes pegging presidential campaign expenses at N5 billion. Accordingly, governorship candidates are restricted to one billion while senatorial aspirants cannot spend beyond N250 million. Adopting a report submitted by its Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the upper chamber of the National Assembly amended Section 91 of the piece of legislation that bordered on campaign expenditure.
According to the fresh law, no individual or other entity could donate more than N10 million to a candidate or entity. Furthermore, Section 91(10) stipulates that “a candidate who knowingly acts in contravention of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of one per cent of the amount permitted as the limit of campaign expenditure under this Act or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.”
The chamber also introduced Clause 14 to amend Section 49 (4) of the Principal Act that deals with the failure of a card reader.
The report of the Senator Suleiman Nazif-led panel noted: “where a smart card reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any polling unit and a fresh one is not deployed three hours before the close of the election in that unit, then the election shall not hold but be rescheduled and conducted within 24 hours thereafter, provided that where the total possible votes from all the affected card readers in the unit or units do not affect the overall result in the constituency or election concerned, the commission shall notwithstanding the fact that a fresh card reader is not deployed as stipulated, announce the final results and declare a winner.”
Clause 24 was also inserted to amend Section 87 (13) that borders on deadline for primary elections. Clause 32, on the other hand, altered Section 140 (4) that captures omission of the name of a candidate or logo of a political party. Nazif, however, said all President Buhari’s earlier observations for declining accent earlier had been addressed.
Recalled that President Mohammadu Buhari had declined to sign the bill for about third time, given his reason, he said he declined to sign the bill due to “some drafting issues” that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.
Ita Enang, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), said, “Mr President is declining assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill due to some drafting issues that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.
“Mr President invites the Senate and House of Representatives to address these issues as quickly as possible so that he may grant assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill.’’
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmud Yakubu, has said the bill would not be used for the February 2019 general elections, unless it was signed into law at least six months before the election.
The committee had addressed the issues raised by the President in a harmonized, fourth version of the bill.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, maintained that Buhari would assent the bill when transmitted by the National Assembly.