The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill was passed on Thursday July 15, following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Though the Committee had in its report recommended in Section 52(3) that, INEC “may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable”, an amendment sought by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger) was approved by the senate.
Abdullahi’s amendment was that “INEC may consider electronic collation of results provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secured by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.”
After Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) seconded the amendment, Senate President Ahmad Lawan ruled in favour of the amendment after a voice vote.
This resulted in a rowdy session, which lasted for several minutes. Effort to restore the earlier provision in the contentious clause by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom), was however unsuccessful.
Lawan ruled against Akpan’s motion after voice vote, a situation that resulted in another rowdy session. The Senate President struggled to restore order but the uproar continued, forcing the Senate into an executive session, which lasted for about 15 minutes.
When the lawmakers returned, Mr Abaribe called for a division citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rule. This rule allows for individual voting on an issue if senators disagree with the ruling of the Senate President.
Lawmakers were thereafter, called upon one after the order and asked to vote verbally. At the end of the exercise, 52 senators who were all elected on All Progressives Congress (APC) platform voted that the NCC and the National Assembly should determine where electronic transmission of results will be used and subject to the approval of the National Assembly.