Reps, Groups Speaks on Electoral Act amendment bill.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has rejected reports going around that lawmakers are planning to take off the electronic transfer of election results from the Electoral Act amendment bill.

Gbajabiamila insisted that they are yet to receive the report from the committee.

The speaker of the Green chamber’s statement was in response to speculations raised by a member, Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo, who said his constituents have overwhelmed him with calls, demanding why the lawmakers would refuse electronic transfer of election results.

According to Ozurigbo, “Several Nigerian have been calling me to express worry about the alteration to the electoral act. I don’t know the information going around where they said that we carefully amended section 50 subsection 2 that the agreed electronically transmitted election result has been changed to manually transmitted. I think my privilege has been breached.”

In response, the Speaker said he has made it a habit not to respond to every media report, as the Committee tasked with the responsibility of working on the Electoral Act was yet to submit a report to the House.
He said, “the House will follow its normal procedure in considering clause by clause of the Bill when the Committee submits its report. I have asked the Chairman of the Committee and she told me that she was not aware of that.”

In a related development, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations under the auspices of Alliance of Civil Society Organizations for Expression of Electoral and Democratic Space has invaded the National Assembly, demanding reasons behind the exclusion of some provisions, such as electronic voting, financial autonomy for INEC, protection of people with disabilities, in the new Electoral Act.

The aggrieved protesters stormed the premises with placards, with inscriptions such as, “SaveOurElections #NigeriansDeserveFreeAndFairElection and so on.

The CSOs alleged that the new draft bill carries a strange Section 50(2) which outlaws transmission of votes by electronic means.
The Bill is expected to be passed this week by both chambers of the National Assembly.

On their part, the apex socio-cultural Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is interested in seeing an INEC truly independent of the debate over the electronic transfer of election results.

Ohanaeze insisted that if INEC is truly independent, it should be allowed to take independent decisions and conduct free, fair and credible elections.

According to the group, “Our position is that INEC should be truly independent. It is only when they are truly independent that they can conduct free, fair and credible elections.

“What is important to Ohanaeze is for INEC to be truly independent to enable them to take proper independent decisions, whether election results are transmitted electronically or not.

“I don’t want to bother myself with the electronic transmission of elections results, if INEC is truly independent, they will take decisions without being influenced”, Chief Alex Chidozie Ogbonnia, its spokesman said.

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