The Senate ratified amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 on Thursday, effectively approving the use of electronic voting technologies for the 2019 elections in Nigeria.
The new act will also enable election results to be transmitted via electronic means to collation centers.
The bill passage was based on the senate committee report on the Independent National Electoral Commission on a bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 5, 2010 and other related matters (SB 231 and SB 234).
The new bill made new provisions to enable INEC implement the use of electronic voting during elections, use of card readers, and to modify voting processes if a situation warrants it.
The bill will also empower INEC to encrypt election results electronically prior to transmission to forestall hacking and tampering.
In such an event whereby an election candidate dies before results are declared, the new bill provides that such result shall remain valid and be transferred to the political party that lost the candidate. In such an instance, INEC will suspend elections for 21 days and the political party who lost its candidate will conduct a new primary to select a new candidate.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said that he new bill is a step in the right direction which will also prevent lapses in the electioneering process in the country.
“Distinguished colleagues, let me thank all of you for this job well done. I want to particularly thank the members of the committee on INEC and particularly the former chairman of the committee, Abubakar Kyari, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and all the members of the committee who have worked very hard to ensure the passage of this very important bill which addresses our electoral process and goes on to strengthen our democracy,” Saraki said.
“We have touched on new areas which I believe will improve the credibility of our elections and by so doing, definitely improve our democracy and good governance.
“Most importantly, I think, are some of the new sections we have added, in the area of technology, the smart card reader, and particularly the area of collation which has been an area of great concern.
“Collation of results after the polling units and some of the additions we put on the electronic way by which the compilation of results can be done, I think will go a long way to reduce some of the irregularities we have seen before.
“This is a great work you have been able to put together today and I want to commend everybody. I am also happy that we have passed the amendments very early. My concern has always been that if we don’t do it now, it will get more difficult as we get blown to the 2019 elections.
“We hope that with this bill that we have passed, very soon, we will sit together with the house of representatives to be able to get the copy to the president for assent.”