THE President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday raised the alarm that some mischief-makers and rabble-rousers were blackmailing the National Assembly leadership over the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.
Lawan stated this at plenary when the Chairman of the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Kabiru Gaya, submitted his panel’s report.
The Senate President lamented that his telephone numbers and that of the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, were even published in the process.
He regretted that he received over 900 text messages on a single day.
Lawan said, “On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, there are various accusations, insinuations that the leadership of the Senate, some time, the leadership of the National Assembly had tampered with the report of the committee on INEC of both chambers.
“Some of those accusing the leadership of the National Assembly and misinformed innocent, some are simply mischievous and rabble rousers.
“This is the first time the report is laid here and this is the report of the committee.
“This is the decision of the committee on INEC and therefore, whatever would be discussed or considered about the bill will be on the basis of what has been presented to the committee here.
“If anybody feels strongly about anything, he or she, should meet the senators to canvass for their positions rather than blackmailing our leadership.
“This is because my telephone lines and that of the Speaker were published and on one day, I received over 900 text messages saying that we have manipulated the report whereas, we did not. We will do what is right. We have our procedures and lobbying is part of democracy.”
PDP rejects plot to block electronic transfer of results
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has urged members of the National Assembly to put the interest of Nigeria above self in passing amendments to the Electoral Act.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbindiyan, made the appeal on behalf of the party, in a statement titled, “PDP Rallies Nigerians Against Plots To Pass Prohibition of Electronic Transmission of Election Results On Thursday,” in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The statement read in part, “The PDP calls on Senators and members of the House of Representatives to shun partisanship and vote in the national interest on section 50 (2) of the Electoral Act amendment bill, which dwells on electronic transmission of results.
“The party says that it has come to its attention that certain interests are plotting a rejection of electronic transfer of results on the floors of both chambers of the National Assembly on Thursday.
According to the PDP, it behooves on every Nigerian, particularly the federal lawmakers, to work on the improvement of our electoral processes in order to engender free, fair, transparent and credible elections.
It insisted that there was no part of Nigeria or any local government headquarters that communication network does not exist and function, to warrant the exclusion of electronic transmission of election results from the law.
The party further said, “It is imperative to add that with the technology proposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, even where the network is slow, it does not stop the transmission process from arriving at the collation Centre.
“The PDP therefore urges the lawmakers not to allow themselves to be swayed by any one or any interest bent on conducting our election in the manipulative manner as desired by undemocratic elements.
The party calls on all Nigerians to remain at alert and be ready to use every legitimate means available and acceptable within our laws to resist this move to further strangulate the electoral process.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission and Electoral Matters has failed to include the mandatory transmission of election results in the Electoral Act (amendments) Bill 2021
A copy of the bill sighted by our correspondent on Wednesday revealed that the federal parliament gave the INEC options to either conduct electronic voting or choose any other methods that suits it, in the conduct of elections.
It also gave the electoral umpire the power to transmit results by electronic means only where it was convenient for it to do so.
Section 52(1) of the amended Act now read, “Voting at an election under this Bill shall be by open secret ballot.
“52(2) Voting at an election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting.
“52(3) The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”
The report of the INEC joint committee chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Senate) and co-chaired by Aisha Dukku (Reps), which were distributed to the lawmakers on Wednesday, would be deliberated upon today (Thursday)