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senate Seeks Amendment Of Electoral Act, Makes Provisions For Dead Candidates

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BEVERLY HILL, December 01, (THEWILL) – The Senate, on Thursday , continued with the process of amending the Electoral Act with a new proposal that fresh primary election should be held within 14 days to replace a presidential or governorship candidate who dies before the announcement of the result of the election.

The upper chamber also adopted the proposal that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shall suspend the conduct of a new election for 21 days when the death of a candidate is recorded after the commencement of an election and before the announcement of result.

The new provisions, necessitated by the sudden death of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Audu, at the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State, may have laid to rest the controversy over who succeeds a dead presidential or governorship candidate who dies before the announcement of the result of an election.

THEWILL recalls that Audu died before the announcement of the election result leading to a legal battle that was contested from the high court to the Supreme Court as Audu's running mate, Hon. James Faleke, insisted the he was the right person inherit the votes of the deceased principal.

Following the development, the Senate has opted to insert a new Section 3 (a-c) into the proposed Electoral Act which provides that:

“If after the commencement of poll and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a nominated candidate dies, (a ) the Commission shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days; (b) the political party whose candidate died may, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh direct primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate; and (c) subject to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection, the Commission shall continue with the election, announce the final result and declare a winner.”

The new bill also provides a legal framework for the use of manual voting in situations where card readers malfunction during election in order to make the action legally valid.

The amendment provides that once the presiding officer at the polling unit is convinced that the intending voter is the owner of the voter card, he should go ahead to accredit him.

The new amendment in Section 49(1-4) of the Electoral Act reads: “The Presiding Officer shall use a Smart Card Reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the Commission from time to time for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm or authenticate (a) the genuineness or otherwise of the voter's card; (b) that the voter's card presented by the voter is registered at the polling unit in the constituency in which the card is presented; (c) the biometric connection or otherwise of the intending voter with the voter's card; and (d) the number of duly accredited voters in the polling unit.

“(3) An intending voter shall not be accredited to vote in an election if the voter's card presented by him to the Presiding Officer is not (a) a genuine voter's card issued by the Commission to the intending voter; (b) registered at the polling unit in the constituency in which the card is presented, and (c) biometrically connected to the intending voter.

“(4) Notwithstanding paragraph (3) (c) of this section, the Presiding Officer on being satisfied that an intending voter is the owner of the voter's card, may accredit the intending voter to vote in the election.”

Story by Oputah David