Bill to Prosecute Electoral Officers over Cancellation of Results Scales 2nd Reading in House of Reps

A bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to prohibit cancellation of election results due to over voting by electoral officers has passed Second Reading in the House of Representatives.

Hon. Abubakar Hassan Fulata, Chairman House Committee on University Education and Representative of Birniwa/Guri/Kiri-Kasamma Federal Constituency, Jigawa State in the Chamber contributing to debste

A Bill to Amend the 2022 Electoral Act No. 13 and for Related Matters sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Hassan Fulata, Representing Birniwa/Guri/Kiri-Kasamma Federal Constituency, Jigawa State,  seeks to amend sections 51 (2) and deletion of sections 51(3) and 51(4) as well as sections 84 (8).

According to Fulata who also the Chairman, House Committee on University Education, Sections 51 of the principal Act is amended by deleting the existing subsection (2) and inserting a new subsection (2) after subsection (1) 

It reads (2) “where the  number of votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceeds the number of accredited voters in that polling unit, the presiding Officer shall deduct the number of the excess votes across all  political parties in that polling unit, and the presiding officer shall be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of section 145 of this Act and if found guilty, shall be sentenced to a period of six months imprisonment or a fine of two million Naira or both”.

He said if the above amendment is accepted, then there will be no basis for sections 51(3) and 51(4) and therefore should be completely deleted from the Act.

“As it stands, the provisions of sections 51(2) (3) and (4) seems to deliberately target legitimate winners of elections instead of the criminally minded individuals who connive with custodians of electoral materials to cancel their votes. 

“Even if it is presumed that the individual(s) who added the votes are not known, certainly the winner of the election in a particular unit or his/her agents cannot be party to a deliberate act that will invalidate their votes.

“Most of the times, candidates target the strong holes of their opponents leveraging on the provisions of this section to add one or two votes to discredit the outcomes of the elections in those polling units to create advantage for the loosers. Thus, by deducting one or two votes from the votes of all candidates across the political parties will not dramatically change the outcome of the electoral contest.

“Equally important is the need to punish the presiding officer who allowed himself or herself to be used to perpetrate fraud and injustice. As the custodians of electoral materials, this clause is needed for the purpose of deterrence,” Fulata said.

Similarly, the bill Seeks to allow statutory delegate to participate in primary election.

He said Secretion 84 of the principal Act is amended by deleting the existing subsection (8) and inserting a new subsection (8) after subsection (7). 

It reads (8) “A political Party that adopts the system of indirect primaries for the choice of its candidate shall clearly outline it its Constitution and Rules, the procedure for the democratic election of delegates to vote at the convention, congress or meeting in addition to statuary delegates already prescribed in the Constitution of the party.” 

According to Fulata, the above provision has always been part of the electoral Act in line with the provision of the Constitution of all political parties in Nigeria where statutory delegates are allowed to participate in primary elections to produce new leaders because of their tremendous experience.

“However, this very important section of the Electoral Act was mistakenly taken off the Act when it was last amended in 2022 by the 9th Assembly, hence the need for its reinstatement.

The bill was referred to House Committee on Electoral Matters for further legislative actions.

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