Senators on Thursday voted against electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Rather, the lawmakers empowered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Assembly to determine the use of electronic transmission in an election.
A total of 52 senators, who are all members of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC), voted in favour of granting the powers to the NCC and NASS , while 28 senators, who are members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted in favour of INEC). A total of 28 senators were absent during the voting process.
The decision to vote individually was followed by a Point of Order raised by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, shortly after the lawmakers returned from an executive session.
The upper chamber had earlier became rowdy after lawmakers disagreed on the amendment to Section 52(3) of the bill.
This section deals with electronic transmission of results during elections.
It states: “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”
But the Senate Deputy Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, moved that the section be amended to read:“The commission may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.
“The commission may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the Nigerian Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”
Chaos ensued when lawmakers who disagreed with the provision began to complain loudly. The rowdiness lasted for over 15 minutes after which the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, called for an executive session.
When the lawmakers returned, Mr Abaribe called for a division citing Order 73 of the Senate Standing Rule.
This rule allows for individual voting on an issue if senators disagree with the ruling of the Senate President.
Lawmakers were, thereafter, called upon one after the order and asked to vote verbally.
At the end of the exercise, 52 senators,including the Chairman of the Senate committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya voted against the committees’s report. They voted that the NCC and the National Assembly should determine where electronic transmission of results will be used and subject to the approval of the National Assembly.
While casting their votes against the amendment, the APC Senators attributed their decision to the claim of the NCC that only 43 per cent of the country has network coverage.
The issue of electronic voting has been a major recommendation from Nigerians and the lawmakers at some point attempted to omit that section from the legislation.