*Says It’s Mischievous to Say Senators Voted Against Electronic Transmission
The Senate on Sunday said the Independent National Electoral Commission has no absolute independence when it comes to conduct of elections.
Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media, said no agency of government has absolute independence, insisting this is one of the wrong impressions that have made Nigerians to misinterpret the voting process on the electronic transmission of election results.
He spoke on an Arise Television interview programme, which was monitored by the NPO Reports on Sunday.
“I need to say this for the understanding of Nigerians. It is mischievous for anybody to say that there is absolute independence. We have the power to make laws as to the election of the President, the Vice President, Governors and any other offices created by law,” Basiru said
He said the Electoral Law comprises of those various aspects of the conduct of elections which the National Assembly makes law upon including modes of nomination of candidates, the conducts of the affairs of political parties and the actual conduct of the election itself are all within the competence of the National Assembly.
“But to say that whether we want to make use of a particular mode of transmission of results, that the National Assembly does not have that power will run foul of the Section 4 Item 22 of the Electoral Law. And that is our own understanding of the constitution,” He added
He said it was irresponsible of the House of Representatives Minority Leader to have accused APC senators of betraying Nigerians.
He said, “When I saw what the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives just said now, I think it is absolutely irresponsible, reckless and unbecoming of someone in that position.
“Section 52 has 5 sub-sections. Section 52 (1) says Open secret ballot will be the mode of election. Sub-section 2 says INEC has discretion to come up with guidelines for its procedures for voting and that may include electronic voting. No controversy about that. So the question of whether anybody is opposed to transparency in election process has actually been proved to be a lie. Everybody in the National Assembly unanimously agreed to INEC having discretion to adopt appropriate mode of voting and procedure, which may include electronic voting. But this was glossed over because of the mischief that some people intended to do.
He said that the fact that a committee of the senate made a recommendation did not mean it was sacrosanct.
Basiru added, “It is also dishonest, mischievous and unfortunate that individuals will now say that because some of us have issues about the vagueness, ambivalence and the nebulous nature of the suggested amendment, to say that we are against electronic transmission of results.”
Saying that there is still a window of opportunity for Nigerians to have what they desire, Basiru said already there are two versions of the same bill now by virtue of the positions taken in the House of Representatives and that taken at the Senate.
He said what would happen is for joint conference of the two chambers comprising equal representations for the purpose of harmonizing the views and positions of the two chambers for a final bill to be presented to the President.
The lawmaker also said that Nigerians should not be afraid of testing democratic issues in the courts noting that these are part of the beauty of democracy.