By Salawudeen Olawale
There was a division among members of the House of Representatives over the use of electronic card reader during elections in the country.
The division was noticed during the passage for second reading four consolidated bills which included: a bill for an Act to amend the Electoral act, 2010 to make the electoral process foolproof by making the card reader the credible means of voters accreditation and voting and provide for strict compliance with election guidelines and manual so as to enhance transparency and efficiency in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
Others are: “a bill for an act to amend sections 33 and 36 of the Electoral Act, 2010 to provide for death of a presidential or gubernatorial candidate during an ongoing election.
“A bill for an Act to amend the Electoral act, Cap. E6, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to incorporate diaspora voting in the presidential election in the Nigerian Electoral Act, 2010.
“A bill for an act to amend the provisions of the Electoral act, No. 6 of 2010 to provide a timeline for the submission of lists of candidates, criteria for substitution of candidates, disclosure of sources of funds contributed for political parties and to empower the commission to uphold party primaries where there is a change in the results and for other related matters (HBs 484, 806, 809 and 966)”.
The consolidated bills, which passed second reading after heated debates by the lawmakers, was sponsored by Honourables Ahmed Babba Kaita, Karimi Sunday, Eucharia Azodo and Aishatu Jibril Dukku.
Speaking on the bill, one of the sponsors, Honourable Karimi, said, “if the proposed amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act passes through, it will address the controversy that arose during the last gubernatorial election in Kogi State where the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, the late Abubakar Audu, died while the election was on.”
While contributing to the debate, the minority leader, Honourable Leo Ogor, said “card reader is an instrument of disenfranchising Nigerians,” adding that the card reader used in the last election was a disaster.
He advised that, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should wake up to its responsibility. We should go for clear electronic voting.
Any attempt to introduce the card readers into the electoral act, we will go against it.”
In his own contribution, the Chief Whip, Honourable Alhassan Ado Doguwa, said the use of card reader had come to stay, saying its use was an attempt to fight electoral corruption.
According to him, “the usage of the card reader is a deliberate attempt to fight electoral corruption. It is a very good bill. Card reader must survive and be included in the electoral act.”
The bill was referred to the committees on electoral matters and justice for further legislative input.