NCC, National Assembly to dictate electronic transmission of votes to INEC

National coverage must be considered adequate and secure before INEC can be allowed to transmit electronically.

Nigerian senators [Tope Brown]

The Nigerian Senate has approved a provision that would allow the electronic transmission of election results, but with very restrictive conditions.

The provision to transmit results electronically has been a contentious issue over the past week after revelations that it was explicitly removed from the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

This forced the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to review the particular Section 50 (3) before it submitted its report to plenary on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

When the bill was considered during plenary on Wednesday, July 15, the reviewed section read, "The commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable."

However, Senator Sabi Abdullahi requested the section be amended to stipulate that INEC can only resort to electronic transmission after the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has certified that national coverage is adequate and secure.

He added that the National Assembly must also approve the decision if INEC decide to push forward with it.

When the amendment was put up for a voice vote, both sides of the vote were close, but Senate President Ahmad Lawan ruled in favour of the amendment.

Senator Albert Bassey kicked against the vote and insisted that the section be kept as recommended by the committee that worked closely on it.

This was also put up to another voice vote, but, once again, Lawan ruled in favour of Abdullahi's amendment despite how close and hard-to-decipher the vote was.

This decision caused uproar as lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, rebelled against Lawan's handling of the proceedings.

The Senate President then requested a closed door session not to be observed by the media.

When they returned from the closed session, Abaribe raised Order 73 of Senate rules to divide the chamber for individual votes to be recorded.

At the end of the vote, 52 APC senators voted for Abdullahi's amendment, while 28 PDP lawmakers voted for the original provision that left INEC in sole control.

28 senators were absent from the session, and Lawan did not have to vote because there was no deadlock.

Check full list of how senators voted here.

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