Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Senate, warned on Wednesday that some thugs and rabble-rousers were blackmailing the National Assembly leadership over the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
When the Chairman of the Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Kabiru Gaya, presented his panel’s report, Lawan stated this in plenary.
The Senate President bemoaned the fact that his and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila’s phone numbers were made public as part of the process.
He expressed regret for receiving over 900 text messages in one day.
“On the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, there have been various accusations, insinuations that the leadership of the Senate, and at one point, the leadership of the National Assembly, tampered with the report of the INEC committee of both chambers,” Lawan said.
“Some of those accusing the National Assembly leadership of being misinformed are simply mischievous and rabble rousers, while others are simply mischievous and rabble rousers.
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“This is the first time the report has been laid here, and this is the committee’s report.
“Because this is a decision of the INEC committee, everything that is discussed or considered about the bill will be based on what has been presented to the committee here.
“Rather than blackmailing our leadership, anyone who feels strongly about something should meet with senators to canvass for their positions.
“This is because my and the Speaker’s phone numbers were made public, and on one day, I received over 900 text messages accusing us of tampering with the report, which we did not. We’ll do the right thing. We have procedures in place, and lobbying is an important part of democracy.”
PDP rejects the plot in order to prevent electronic data transfer.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party has urged National Assembly members to put Nigeria’s interests ahead of their own when amending the Electoral Act.
Kola Ologbindiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, made the appeal on behalf of the party in Abuja on Wednesday, in a statement titled, “PDP Rallies Nigerians Against Plots To Pass Prohibition of Electronic Transmission of Election Results On Thursday.”
“The PDP calls on Senators and members of the House of Representatives to put partisanship aside and vote in the national interest on section 50 (2) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which deals with electronic transmission of results,” according to the statement.
According to the party, it has come to its attention that certain interests are planning to block the electronic transfer of results on Thursday on the floors of both chambers of the National Assembly.
According to the PDP, every Nigerian, particularly federal lawmakers, should work to improve our electoral processes so that we can have free, fair, transparent, and credible elections.
It argued that there is no part of Nigeria or any local government headquarters where a communication network does not exist and function, so electronic transmission of election results should be exempted from the law.
“It is imperative to add that with the technology proposed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, even if the network is slow, the transmission process does not stop arriving at the collation Centre,” the party added.
“As a result, the PDP urges lawmakers not to be swayed by anyone or any interest interested in conducting our election in the manipulative manner desired by undemocratic elements.
The party urges all Nigerians to remain vigilant and ready to resist this attempt to further suffocate the electoral process by using all legitimate means available and permissible under our laws.
Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission and Electoral Matters in the National Assembly has failed to include mandatory election results transmission in the Electoral Act (Amendments) Bill 2021.
According to a copy of the bill seen by our correspondent on Wednesday, the federal parliament gave the INEC the option of conducting electronic voting or any other method it deems appropriate in the conduct of elections.
It also gave the electoral umpire the authority to transmit results electronically only when it was practical.
“Voting at an election under this Bill shall be by open secret ballot,” reads Section 52(1) of the amended Act.
“52(2) Voting at an election held under this Bill shall be conducted in accordance with the Commission’s procedures, which may include electronic voting.
“52(3) Where and when practicable, the Commission may transmit election results by electronic means.”
The INEC joint committee report, which was distributed to lawmakers on Wednesday and chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Senate) and co-chaired by Aisha Dukku (Reps), will be discussed today (Thursday)