The Director of Media of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, said the inclusion of some ‘suspicious’ provisions into the Electoral Act amendment bill remained a rationale behind the President’s Muhammadu Buhari decision not to assent the bill.
Keyamo made the allegation on Sunday in reaction to claims that Buhari declined to assent to the electoral act amendment bill to in order to enhance the chances of him being reelected in 2019.
Buhari’s refusal to sign the bill has drawn criticisms from the opposition and Nigerians amid speculations that the president is against the use of card readers in the 2019 general elections.
In a recent report by DeepDive Intelligence at least 13.5 million Nigerians voted manually, that is, without biometric accreditation, in the 2015 presidential electionThe report showed that Buhari won in nine of the ten most-affected states.
On Friday, Buhari said he declined to assent to the electoral act amendment bill, for the fourth time, because it may disrupt the electoral processes of 2019 polls.
He also advised some drafting amendments to the bill such as the “section 5 of the Bill, amending section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure ’30’ for the figure “60” is to be affected.
He also noted that “Section 11 of the Bill, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the proviso is to be introduced.”
“Section 24 of the Bill which amends Section 85 (1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the ‘electing’ to the sentence may be interpreted to mean that political parties may give 21 days notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84 (2) of the Electoral Act which provides the provision for merge of political parties.
“The definition of the term ‘Ward Collection officer’ should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalized and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.”
The president had thrice this year refused to assent to the bill because of “some drafting issues” and omission of the use of card readers, his aide on National Assembly matters Ita Enang said in September.
The development forced the national assembly to rework the bill before transmitting a cleaner copy to the executive earlier on November 7 for the president’s assent on or before December 6.
Keyamo insisted that Section 63 of the new copy of the bill is ‘suspicious’.
While the current provision “Provides that a Presiding Officer should count and announce the result at the polling units, the New provision passed by the national assembly “provides for the presiding officer to announce the result at the polling unit.”It is unclear why counting of votes at the polling unit is omitted.
“These things are very suspicious,” said Keyamo
Keyamo also faulted the electronic transmission of results, citing the case of Kenya election as an example.
He said returning officers of the Independent Electoral Commission might have network issues in transmitting results as some parts of the country are without power supply and internet facilities.
The section “seeks to mandate digital storage and archiving of election results by INEC at its national headquarters. It mandates the Commission to compile, maintain and update a National Electronic Register of Election Results as a separate database.”
“The National Electronic Register will contain the information of results relating to polling units in every election conducted. Furthermore, it allows any person or political party obtain a certified true copy of an election result that is stored in the National Electronic Register in a State, Local Government, Area Council, Ward or polling unit. This could be printed or stored in an electronic format after paying the fees prescribed by the Commission.”