House of Representatives

Members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday failed to agree on whether the card reader should be used for the 2019 polls.

Some members argue that the Supreme Court had in 2015 decided that the card was not recognised by the country’s electoral law.

But others argued that the ruling of the Supreme Court also justified the fresh move by the National Assembly to give a legal backing to the card ahead of the next elections.

Lawmakers expressed the divergent views as the House revisited the amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 by passing it for second reading on Wednesday.

The fresh bill was sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Mrs. Aisha Dukku.

The title of the bill reads, “A bill for an act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No. 6, 2010 to further improve the electoral process and for related matters.”

Recall that the National Assembly had passed the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, 2018 and sent it to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent. Buhari withheld his assent to the bill on the grounds of some controversial sections, particularly the provision on the reordering of the sequence of elections.

However, in its bid to ensure the passage of other important provisions of the bill, the House separated the aspect dealing with elections reordering from the bill debated on Wednesday.

The separate bill on elections reordering will now be presented for debate by the House on a later date.

But, as Dukku led the debate on Wednesday, members still disagreed on some provisions of the new bill, especially on card reader.

They also disagreed on Diaspora voting and violence during elections.

A member from Kano State, Mr. Aliyu Madaki, stated that the introduction of the card reader reduced election fraud in 2015.

He said, “Before the card was introduced, there was so much fraud in our elections. Today, with the card, the accreditation of voters is a lot more transparent, reducing the chances of rigging.”

Another member, Mr. Simon Arabo, noted that the Supreme Court ruling that the card was illegal was the reason the House should give the card a legal backing.

“This amendment has provided the opportunity for us to give a legal backing to the card,” Arabo stated.

In his contribution, Mr. James Faleke said he would support the card reader as long as its role in elections was limited to accreditation of voters.

At the end of debate, the House decided that the bill should pass for second reading.

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