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Ntl Assembly to give legal backing to card reader in the new Electoral Act

The Senate Deputy President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said the National Assembly will provide legal support to the card reader in the new electoral act, to further improve the integrity of the electoral process in Nigeria.

He gave the guarantee when he received the Nigerian representatives of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (AU-ECOSOCC), led by Dr. Tunji Ashaolu in Abuja Thursday.

A statement from his spokesman, Yomi Odunuga in Abuja, quoted Omo-Agege that it was important for the card reader to be part of the legal regime for the elections.

He said the Senate claimed that the card reader would guarantee credible surveys.

According to him, the error of the eighth national assembly is that the modification of the electoral law violated the ECOWAS protocol, which will not be repeated.

“I am sure any minute from now, we are going to be coming up with a revised Electoral Reform Amendment Bill that will address issues that are very dear to us and issues that came to the fore in the 2019 elections, most especially revolving round the legality of the card reader.

“We know that there is no way you can have genuine, credible, free and fair elections in this country without addressing the issue of the card reader.

“Most of the litigations that arise from the 2015 and 2019 elections have always centred around the legality or otherwise of the card reader.

“The courts have made it very clear that as far as they are concerned, Section 49 of the Electoral Act is very clear that the only document recognised by law for purpose of accreditation is the voters register.

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“To the extent that we believe that we want to introduce any innovation including but not limited to the card reader.

“We have to do the right thing, the right thing as far as we are concerned is for us to pass the law to make the card reader.

“We are hellbent on doing that, and we actually tried in the committee that I served on in the eighth senate but the leadership of the eighth senate delayed it and by the time it passed, it had ran into challenges with the ECOWAS Protocol,” he said.

He, however, explained that contentious areas in the amendments made by the eighth National Assembly would be removed before the bill will be passed and sent to the President for assent.

Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central Senatorial District, also expressed the desire of the ninth senate to ensure that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was given accelerated approval.

He assured that the bill would have the buy-in of the executive arm of government to avoid the mistakes of the past.

He said: “This time around, it is the determination of the ninth senate that we are going to have this (PIGB) passed.