By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – Mr Mohammed Nalado, National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has commended the National Assembly for amending the 2010 Electoral Act.
Nalado told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja that the amendment was timely, “as the country is preparing for 2019 general elections’’.
The Senate on Thursday passed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, approving the use of electronic voting in future elections and approved that election results should be electronically transmitted to collation centres.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The report is on a Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters (Sub-section 231 and 234).
Nalado said that it would also help to improve on the country’s electoral system.
He explained that though there was a committee set up by the President to review the Electoral Act, what the National Assembly had done was a welcome development.
“One of the amended clauses is the use of electronic device, Smart Card Readers and the use of electronic voting in future elections.
“This is not in the constitution before, but now that the National Assembly has approved it, it will help to reduce the level of fraud and litigations arising from elections,’’ Nalado said.
Nalado also expressed optimism that there would not be contradiction between the amendment done by the National Assembly and the work of the committee set up by the Federal Government to review the Act.
“What the committee is doing is to collate the views of Nigerians on how the electoral Act should function and how the areas of electoral matters addressed in the constitution should be observed.
“I am sure after the committee’s work; it recommendations have to go to the National Assembly for approval.
“While the committee is collating the views of Nigerians on areas that need to be addressed, it will later forward its recommendations to the National Assembly for debate and harmonisation.
“I don’t think there is going to be any contradiction because it is the National Assembly that will give final approval to it.
Nalado, however, called on other stakeholders to ensure that other necessary actions were taken to speed up the process that would lead to the approval of the amendment.
“I am sure that the president set up the committee on electoral review with good intention to ensure that existing loopholes in the Act were addressed and amended before the 2019 elections.
“I am sure that the assent of the president to the amendment will not take too much time,’’ Nalado said.
Major highlights of the new bill include provision for the use of electronic voting by INEC during future elections.
It also includes the use of Card Reader and also gives INEC power to modify the voting process if there is a challenge.
The Senate also approved a provision to enable INEC transmit the result of elections electronically in an encrypted and secured manner to prevent hacking.
The amended Electoral Act provides that if a candidate dies before the results of elections are declared; the results will not only remain valid but also belongs to the political party that loses its candidate.
This will go a long way to address the incident that happened in Kogi during the last gubernatorial election.
It says that in such a scenario, the INEC should suspend the elections for 21 days during which period the affected political party will conduct fresh primaries to choose a new candidate.
It also stipulates the monies to be collected as registration fees from aspirants in any election.
According to the amendment, Presidential aspirant will pay a fee not more than N10 million, Governorship aspirant, not more than N5 million and Senatorial aspirant, not more than N2million.
Others are; House of Representatives aspirant, not more than N1 million, State House of Assembly aspirant, not more than N500,000, Local Government chairmanship and councillorship aspirants, not more than N250,000 and N150,000