Electoral Offences Commission Bill passes Second Reading at Senate

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By Yusuf Bello

A bill seeking for the establishment of an electoral offences commission has passed Second Reading at the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno North).


Leading debate on the bill titled “a Bill to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission and for Related Matters, 2020 (SB. 220) Senator Kyari said that the commission was very imperative to divest the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the “burden” of prosecuting electoral offenders in Nigeria.

 
He noted that it will enable the commission to focus on its core constitutional mandate of conducting elections.


He said “Electoral crimes lead to low quality, corrupt and violent political leadership. Electoral crimes help election riggers and offenders take control of government against the democratic will of the electorate.

“Electoral offences give birth to political apathy, that forces the electorate to incrementally disengage in political process.


“Electoral offence precipitates vicious cycle of political instability  and national insecurity, electoral corruption leads to avoidable waste of public resources and threatens National Development.


Continuing, Abubakar observed that several other countries across the world had enacted similar laws which has in many ways helped to mainstream and strengthen good and credible electoral processes in those countries.

 
He cited Malaysia (1954), United Kingdom (1983, 1985, 2000, 2006), Nepal (1990, amended 2007), Canada (2014), and Kenya 2016.

 
He said that going by the example of Malaysia, Nigeria was already “63 years late” but must necessarily tow the same line in the interest of the growth and progress of the country.

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Senators who took turn to debate the bill include Senator Surajudeen Ajibola (APC, Osun), Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North), Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Nassarawa) and Yahaya Abdulahi (APC, Kebbi).


Others include, Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West) and Senator George Thomson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers).

 
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan who presided plenary, described democracy as “still the best” and most preferred system of governance.

The bill was consequently passed and referred to the Senate Committee on INEC and mandated to report back to the Senate in within four weeks.

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