Senators split over Electoral Act amendment

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PIC.23. SENATE CHAMBER DURING THE INAUGURATION OF THE 8TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY (9/6/15). 3023/9/6/2015/CH/BJO/NAN

ABUJA, NOVEMBER 25, 2016 – The Senate was sharply divided yesterday on the modalities for the amendment of the Electoral Act 2010, which encapsulates the procedures for elections and highlights operational procedures of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Upper Chamber penultimate week suspended the consideration of the amendment bill following fierce disagreements on the floor on who should assume the candidature of a party whose candidate dies in the middle of an election.

The irreconcilable disagreement, compelled the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, to direct that the bill be sent back to the Committee on INEC for further legislative work.

However, the issue of the bill came up yesterday during a closed-door session that lasted for one and half hours, where senators allegedly had a shouting match while deliberating on the matter. Sources at the session said that the discussions were a bit heated on two main issues in the Electoral Act.

New Telegraph was informed that there were disagreements on the proposed direct and indirect primaries for determination of candidates by the political parties.

It was also learnt that the senators again raised questions on who should be the rightful candidate to assume the ticket in the case of the death of a candidate midway into an election, as witnessed in Kogi State recently, when the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate, Abubakar Audu, died suddenly while election results were being announced.

“The disagreements were centred on these two issues,” a source in the Senate said, adding however, that the lawmakers at the end agreed on one of the issues. It was gathered that the senators agreed to leave the issue of direct primaries to be determined by the political parties.

“It was concluded that the parties could become hamstrung if the National Assembly fixes the mode of primaries in the Electoral Act,” a source said.

It was also gathered that the senators advised that clauses should be introduced to avert a situation where technicalities would be used to cause tension in the polity such as what happened in Abia State where tax returns were used to almost remove the governor.

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