Electoral Bill, Embarrassement to National Assembly – Urhoghide

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Senator Matthew Urhoghide, representing Edo South Senatorial District, has declared the vote by some members of the National Assembly against the Electronic Transmission of Election Results as embarrassement to the legislature.

The ranking Senator condemned his fellow senators when he granted an exclusive interview to the Midwest Herald Community Newspaper in his Constituency recently.

He revealed that the fear of losing elections by the All Progressives Congress (APC) was majorly responsible for the dismay outcome of their proceedings while the debate lasted.

Below is an extract of the extensive chat:

“Let me say this! Nigerians want a government that can be responsible and accountable to them. The failure of our electoral process is closely knitted to the present insecurity in the country.

” Nigerians believe that our electoral process have not been transparent to bring about the sanctity of the democratic process.

“There are very useful inputs we have put into the ammendment of the Electoral Act.

“At the end of proceedings, we will have a law that will serve as deterrent to persons that would want to cause problem in any future election.

“Ballot box snatching and stuffing carries nothing less that five years imprisonment and several punishments for infractions.

“The crisis that bedeviled the e-transmission has to do with section 52 (3) of the new bill. That way the section was drafted is that INEC could employ electronic transmission of results from polling unit to INEC server, provided the Nigerian Communication Commission l, NCC gives directive with the approval of the National Assembly.

“But Section 78 of the Nigerian Constitution has given the exclusive right to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct elections without interference from any authority.

” So when our colleagues in the All Progressives Congress, APC, who felt that allowing INEC to transmit results electronically, and realizing that they may not possibly win, particularly in the face of their failures we are seeing in Nigeria today, they went ahead to vote against the electronic transmission.

“They injected an antithetic clause – ‘provided the Nigerian Communication Commission gives the go-ahead and with the approval of the National Assembly.’

“Any other law whose provision runs contrary to the constitution, is none and void. The Electoral law is inferior to the constitution.

“The APC lawmakers know it that, surbodinating INEC to NCC is contrary to Section 78.

“Since the embarrassing show on the flow of senate, very prominent judicial officers have called me to say that bill as amended is an embarrassement to the national assembly, and that we have rubished the constitution we swore to upload.

“When some of us saw the resolve of our APC members to arrest power from INEC, we called for a division and the senate president accepted.

“Votes were called, every senator that were present voted but some of our colleagues left for whatever reasons, but we stood our grounds for electronic voting and electronic transmission.

“At the end of proceedings, 58 senators opposed, while 28 voted in favour of electronic voting and electronic transmission of results. The result I must say is against the wishes of my constituent and Nigerians in general.

“Moving forward, it is only the ‘Conference Committee’ of the two chambers that can save the National Assembly from the shame that the inconsistency of the bill has brought upon the legislature.

“If the president signs that bill into law, the following day, people are going to court to challenge the law. For the first time, it is going to be the executive arm versus the legislature and judiciary (that will adjudicate) on one hand.

“It is the responsibility of the judiciary to preserve our constitution and we are confident that they will do just that.

“If by the time the national assembly reconvene in September this year, the President is yet to act on the vexed bill, in either way, it will be clear that the APC government is the enemy of Nigerians.”

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