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Electoral Amendment: Lawan appoints top ‘electronic transmission’ critics to lead Senate conference team

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has constituted a seven-member conference committee on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

Members of the committee are Kabiru Gaya (North-west), Ajibola Basiru (South-west) and Danjuma Goje (North-east).

Others are Uche Ekwunife (South-east), Sani Musa (North-central) and Matthew Urhoghide (South-south).

The Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, will lead the panel.

The committee is to meet with the House of Representatives to harmonise the differences in the bill passed by both chambers in July.

The bill seeks to resolve issues concerning INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters, electronic voting and electronic transmission of results from polling units.

The lawmakers passed the bill amid chaos and disagreement in the chamber.

Controversial clause/composition of panel

One major and controversial provision in the bill is Section 52, which deals with electronic transmission of results of elections – a key recommendation from Nigerians including INEC.

During the consideration and passage, the Senate changed this Section from; “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable” to;

“The commission may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”

Before the passage, many lawmakers had opposed the amended clause, which led to a call for division making the lawmakers vote verbally on the clause.

But the House, however, retained the former.

But in the seven-member panel set up by Lawan, five of the lawmakers voted against the electronic transmission of results in an election.

Messrs Yahaya, Gaya, Basiru, Goje and Musa all voted in favour of the amendment, while Mrs Ekwunife was absent during the voting process.

Matthew Urhoghide is the only member of the panel that voted against the amendment.

The composition of the conference committee has raised concerns, with many describing it as imbalanced.

It also comes at a time when civic groups and individuals have asked the National Assembly to adopt the House’ version of a particular clause in the bill.

Although it is not clear when the committee will meet, some lawmakers have promised thorough scrutiny of the different versions passed by the Senate and House.

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