By Seyifunmi Odunuga
Amid a rowdy session, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Senate on Thursday, July 15, voted against electronic transmission of results.
The committee had, in the report, recommended in section 52(3) that, INEC may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.
REPORTERS AT LARGE gathered that an APC senator from Niger North, Sabi Abdullahi, amended the clause to read that INEC may consider electronic collation of results, provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secured by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and approved by the National Assembly.
According to the report, members of the committee on communications had earlier informed the chamber that the NCC had declared that only 43% of the country was currently under effective telecommunications coverage.
The Senate President, Ibrahim Lawan, ruled in favour of the amendment when he conducted a voice vote.
However, there was a disagreement and the minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, called for a division that would require individual voting on the floor as Lawan sustained Abaribe’s point of order and called for a division.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its reaction said, “the party and indeed the majority of Nigerians are shocked over the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Senate to undermine our electoral process by refusing to approve the demand by Nigerians across the board for electronic transmission of election results without conditionalities.
“The action of the APC senators is an atrocious assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians, who looked up to the Senate for improvement in our electoral process in a manner that will engender a free, fair and credible process.
“It is outrageous that the APC and its Senators, in their desperate bid to annex the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seek to route a statutorily independent commission to the approval of an individual masquerading in the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC); an agency under executive control in addition to an extra endorsement of the legislature, before conducting elections.
“This action of the APC senators is a direct affront, novel in its recklessness and a defilement of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which clearly conferred operational independence to INEC to conduct elections, free from interferences and regulations from any other agency of government.
“The decision of the APC Senators, therefore, amounts to a suspension of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which is a recipe for the crisis that could derail our democracy and destabilize our nation.
“It is, to say the least, a preparation for mass rigging of elections across Nigeria by the APC, which must be firmly resisted.
“Our party, standing with Nigerians, however, commends the PDP senators as well as other democratically minded senators in the chamber for their resilience in voting for unconditional electronic transmission of results, in line with the wishes and aspiration of Nigerians for a free, fair, clean and credible election.
“The PDP however notes the efforts being made in the House of Representatives and urges lawmakers to return to the chamber tomorrow and save our nation from the machination of the APC as being pushed in the Senate.”