REL/Bashir Meyere, Abuja

National Assembly has assured that it will consider and pass the new Electoral Law upon resumption for plenary by February 9, 2021.

The Joint Committee on INEC and Electoral Matters is expected to adopt a final document this weekend, for onward presentation to both chambers for consideration and approval.

In a statement by the special adviser on Media and publicity Mr Yomi Odunuga to the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; said Chairman of the panel, Senator Kabiru Gaya; co-chairman and his counterpart from the House of Representatives, Hon. Aishatu Dukku, stated this at the presentation of the draft report in Abuja.

The trio assured that the National Assembly would pass the eagerly anticipated bill before the end of the first quarter of 2021.

In a remark, Senator Omo-Agege – also a member of the committee – said though the process under the Eighth National Assembly was fraught with mutual suspicions and bitterness, electoral reform for the Ninth National Assembly remains a priority in its legislative agenda.

The bill, according to him, will cure specific mischief plaguing our elections and electoral processes when passed into law.

He applauded the cooperation of stakeholders for putting all hands on deck, with a view to having a new electoral legal framework ahead of the 2023 general election.

Senator Omo-Agege expressed delight at some of the provisions of the proposed law, especially the mandatory use of card readers for the conduct of local government elections.

He, however, explained that this does not take away the independence of State Electoral Commissions (SIECs), but ensure elections at the council levels were sanitised and conducted in line with global best practices.

In their separate remarks, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu; Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo applauded the technical committee for working round the clock to produce the draft report.

They noted that the development was expected to lay the foundation for significant development in the country’s electoral system.

The bill seeks to repeal the Electoral Act, 2010, and provide a more stable and progressive legal framework for elections in Nigeria

It alters several provisions relating to establishment of polling units, issue of ballot paper, limitation of election expenses, conduct and postponement of elections in an emergency, oath of neutrality by election officers, among other provisions.