Again, Senate moves to amend rejected Electoral Act

Again, Senate moves to amend rejected Electoral Act

- The Nigerian Senate has begun plans to amend the Electoral Act

- The lawmakers on Wednesday, October 10, had a debate on a new bill on the amendment

- The new bill was sponsored by Senator Suleiman Gamawa of the Bauchi PDP

Members of the eighth Senate have begun fresh moves to amend the rejected Electoral Act.

The senators move followed the rejection of two bills seeking the amendment of the Act by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Daily Trust reports that a new bill on the amendment of the Electoral Act was presented on Wednesday, October 10, for first reading before the eighth Senate.

The bill later passed second reading after about an hour of debate during plenary.

Sponsoring the new bill, Senator Suleiman Gamawa of the Peoples Democratic Party in Bauchi state said, the amendments sought included that where a smart card reader fails to function and a fresh one is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled and rescheduled within 24 hours.

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He said another aspect of the amendment is that where a primary election is held and duly certified by the electoral umpire, and the result is subsequently altered, INEC shall have power to overrule the alteration.

Also, with the new bill, the maximum amount to be spent during campaigns by a presidential candidate was set at not more than N5 billion; governorship N1 billion; senatorial N100 million; House of Reps N70 million; state assembly N30 million; chairmanship N30 million and councilorship N500,000.

Gamawa noted that if at the point of display or distribution of ballot papers by INEC, a candidate or his agent discovers that his name, the name or logo of his political party is omitted, such person shall notify the commission, as a result of which election in the area shall be postponed to a period not exceeding 90 days.

While a good number of the lawmakers kicked against some of the proposed amendments, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) said there was no logic in putting the campaign expenses of a presidential candidate at N5 billion, considering the large number of polling units and other expenses.

However, the deputy speaker of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu said he was worried about the omission of a candidate's name on the ballot paper.

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“I’m very worried about item 7, which is on missing name of a candidate on the ballot paper. This is very dangerous ‎ because somebody who knows he can’t win election will raise the alarm and make other candidates suffer for it," Ekweremadu said.

In his reaction, James Manager said: “Some of the amendments raised are very technical and dangerous. I advise that when this is referred to the committee, it should check all the views expressed here, including those not expressed, and come up with something that’s acceptable.”

While Ali Ndume suggested that a sample of the ballot paper should be displayed two weeks to the election for all parties to see and agree to further printing.

Following the deliberation, Senate President Bukola Saraki referred the bill ‎to the committee on electoral matters to report back next Tuesday, October 16.

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Meanwhile, previously reported that President Buhari has signed a new executive order, Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS), meant to target money launderers and tax evaders.

In a statement by Garba Shehu on Wednesday, October 10, the President said Nigerian taxpayers holding offshore assets and incomes are expected to pay taxes on them. A 12 month period has been given for voluntary compliance.

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