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Press Statement on Expectations of Civil Society from Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill Harmonization
SITUATION ROOM AND EU-SDGN IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS EXPRESS EXPECTATIONS AHEAD OF ELECTORAL BILL HARMONISATION
Issued in Abuja at 11.00 am: Monday, 27th September 2021
As the National Assembly Harmonisation Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives sets for its conference on the Electoral Bill harmonisation, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and the EU-SDGN implementing partners call for a dispassionate, selfless decision-making process during the harmonisation. Nigerians have expressed their expectations for an Electoral Act, 2021, that will endure personal, partisan and primordial considerations.
Notwithstanding the landmark proposals in the ongoing review process, civil society partners and key stakeholders have identified about 17 points of divergence in the versions of the of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Amongst which are: the use of Smart Card Readers; the deployment of electronic voting, collation and transmission of results; the cost of campaigns and the process of nomination of candidates etc.
As civil society community and as expressed by a vast majority of electoral stakeholders and Nigerians, we are concerned by these identified differences in the proposals particularly regarding electronic transmission of results and the deployment of technological devices in the conduct of elections. Following from our experience and observations of elections in recent years, as well as widely held views of Nigerians, we expect the harmonisation committee to accept the version of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill that allows the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of conduct of elections, including transmission of results.
INEC has shown by its practice and experience that it has adequate capacity to use technology in elections including in the transmission of results. This experience has been proven during several off-cycle elections in recent years. Indeed, INEC has expanded its use of technology, including using the Z-pad and now, its newest innovation, the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
We would also like to point out that the version of the bill that stipulates the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recommendation and National Assembly approval before election results can be transmitted electronically, presents a constitutional breach that may result in long-drawn litigations and uncertainty which could put INEC’s preparations for elections in jeopardy.
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