Nigerian Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021: passes Electoral Offences Commission bill


Last Updated on July 31, 2021 by Memorila

Nigerian Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 passed the Electoral Offences Commission bill which prescribed a 20-year jail term for ballot boxes snatchers.

The Nigerian Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 among other businesses, have passed a bill to establish the Electoral Offences Commission which prescribed a 20-year jail term for ballot boxes snatchers, but slapped just a meagre 5-year jail term on party officials that engage in electoral frauds.

The Senate also read five bills for the first time and considered reports of five committees.

Among the reports considered, the Senate confirmed the nomination of five persons as INEC commissioners, rejected that of Lauretta Onochie and deferred the confirmation of Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam to another legislative day.

Furthermore, the bill for the establishment of National Emergency Medical Services Agency was also

Proceedings

Senator Sirajudeen Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central, APC) moved for the adoption of votes and proceedings for Wednesday, 7th July, 2021, and was seconded by Senator Sandy Onuh (Cross River Central, PDP).

Mr. President’s letter

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, submitted the Federal Government of Nigeria 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Strategy Paper via letter that was read by the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.

Petitions

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central, APC), submitted a petition from a member of his constituency who was allegedly unlawfully dismissed from the Nigerian Air Force.

Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East, PDP) submitted a petition from a member of his constituent against the Nigerian Police Force for withholding his salary since April 2014.

While Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central, PDP) submitted five petitions from the Office of the President of the Senate.

All petitions were laid and referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which is expected to report back within four weeks.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege. Photograph: @NgrSenate

Furthermore, the senate president cited Order 1B to allow the Senate refer the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Strategy Paper to the Joint Committees on Finance, National Planning, Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Upstream and Gas, Foreign and Domestic Debt, which were expected to report back on Thursday July 15th, 2021.

Bills for first reading

The Nigerian Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 read five bills for the first time. Two for the establishment of new institutions, Federal Medical Centre Wase (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 885) by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Senate Leader – Kebbi North, APC) and the National Biotechnological Development Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 773) by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central, PDP).

Two other bills were presented for the creation of new citadels of learning, Federal College of Education Ekeremor, Bayelsa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 774) by Senator Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa West, PDP) and the Federal College of Education Birniwa, Jigawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (HB. 383) by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Senate Leader).

Finally, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central, APC) presented a bill to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act Cap C4 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 775).

Presentation of reports

1) A motion for the Confirmation of the Nominations of the following persons for Appointment as Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a report by the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was raised by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South, APC). Senator Sadiq, Suleiman Umar (Kwara North, APC) seconded the motion.

The seven persons nominated are Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Commissioner, Katsina State), Lauretta Onochie (Commissioner – Delta State), Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Commissioner – Ekiti State) and Saidu Babura Ahmad, mni (Commissioner – Jigawa State).

The remaining people are Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam (Commissioner – North-Central), Dr. Baba Bila (Commissioner – North-East) and Prof. Abdullahi Zuru (Commissioner – North-West).

After the report was laid and presented, the Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 resolved into Committee of the Whole to consider the report. And after reverting to plenary, the nominations of Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah, Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayim Saidu Babura Ahmad, mni, Dr. Baba Bila and Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, were confirmed as INEC commissioners to represent their assigned portfolios.

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The nomination of Lauretta Onochie was rejected, while that of Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam was stood down for further legislative action.

The Nigerian Senate Plenary live. Photograph: Tope Brown/Nigerian Senate

2) A motion on the Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.220), a report of the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was moved by Senator Kabiru Gaya and was seconded Senator Michael Nnachi (Ebonyi South, PDP).

After reverting back to plenary from the Committee of the Whole, the Senate considered and approved Clauses 1-46 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended.

Thus Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.220) was read the third time and passed.

3) Two motions from the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on two bills by Senator Ahmad, Babba Kaita (Katsina North, APCP) were moved by Senator Sandy Onuh. The bills are the Federal University of Science and Technology Lau, Taraba State (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 672) and the Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Aboh (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.733).

moved that the Senate do receive and consider the report of the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on the Federal University of Science and Technology Lau, Taraba State (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.672).

Senator Sandy Onuh laid and presented the reports.

For the two bills, the Senate in the Committee of the Whole and Plenary considered and approved Clauses 1-30 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schdules1-3 as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended.

And thus, the Federal University of Science and Technology Lau, Taraba State (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 672) and the Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Aboh (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.733) were read the Third Time and PASSED!

4) A report on the City University of Technology Auchi (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB. 22) by Senator Ahmad, Babba Kaita was submitted by the Conference Committee. Senator Sandy Onuh moved that the Senate do receive and consider the report and was seconded by Senator Nora Daduut.

The Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 approved the recommendations of the committee.

5) The Committee on Health (Secondary & Tertiary) submitted a report on the National Emergency Medical Services Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.717) by Senator Oloriegbe, Yahaya Ibrahim (Kwara Central, APC).

Senator Oloriegbe, Yahaya Ibrahim moved that the Senate do receive and consider the report was seconded by Senator Sadiq Umar.

After the report was laid and presented, the Senate resolved into the Committee of the Whole and afterwards reported progress in the plenary.

The Senate considered and approved Clauses 1-21 as recommended, Interpretation as recommended, Schedule as recommended, Explanatory Memorandum as recommended, Short and Long Titles as recommended.

Hence, the National Emergency Medical Services Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.717) was read the Third Time and PASSED!

Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021 (SB.220)

QueenEsther Iroanusi, writing on PremiumTimes, reported that the Electoral Offences Commission bill passed by the Nigerian Senate, if signed into law, “will empower the commission to investigate electoral offences, prosecute electoral offenders and maintain records of all persons investigated and prosecuted.”

The legislation also prescribes a 20-year jail term for offenders found guilty of snatching ballot boxes during elections.

It also proposes that any candidate or agent who damages or snatches ballot boxes, ballot papers or election materials before, during and after an election without the permission of the election official in charge of the polling station, shall be jailed for 20 years or fined N40 million.

Kabiru Gaya was reported to have said the bill became imperative in view of INEC’s inability to prosecute electoral offenders in accordance with the provisions of a section 149 and 150(2) of the Electoral Act (as Amended).

“By the foregoing statistics, it is unrealistic to expect INEC to conduct free, fair and credible election and simultaneously prosecute offences arising from the same elections.

“Indeed, INEC has at several occasions admitted that it lacks the wherewithal to cleanse the system. Its failure to prosecute even one per cent 870,000 and over 900,000 alleged electoral Offences in 2011 and 2015 general elections respectively is an affirmation of the necessity for a paradigm shift on how we deal with electoral offences,” he said.

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In Clause 12 of the bill, the Senate Plenary of 13th July, 2021 approved at least five years imprisonment or a fine of at least N10 million naira or both, for any officer or executives of any association or political party that engages in electoral fraud that contravenes the provisions of clauses 221, 225(1)(2)(3) and (4) and 227 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Senator Ahmad Lawan chatting with senators. Photograph: @NgrSenate

They adopted 20 years imprisonment for any person involved in ballot box snatching, supplying voter’s cards to persons without due authority, unauthorised printing of voters’ register, illegal printing of ballot papers or electoral documents, and importation of any device or mechanism by which ballot paper or results of elections may be extracted, affected or manipulated, and voting at an election when he is not entitled to vote.

The Senate also approved 10 years imprisonment for any person who sells a voter’s card, or in possession of any voter’s card bearing the name of another person, or prepares and prints a document or paper purporting to be a register of voters or a voter’s card.

Other recommendations are:

* A term of at least 10 years upon conviction for any election official who willfully prevents any person from voting at the polling station, willfully rejects or refuses to count any ballot paper validly cast, willfully counts any ballot paper not validly cast, gives false evidence or withholds evidence, and announces or declares a false result at an election.

* At least 15 years imprisonment for any judicial officer or officer of a court or tribunal who corruptly perverts electoral justice, during or after an election.

*At least 15 years jail term or N30 million naira fine for any security personnel or election official engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission or State Electoral Commission who attempts to influence the outcome of an election.

* In addition, any person found to disturb the public peace on Election Day by playing musical instruments, singing or holding an assembly where a polling station is located shall be guilty of breaching electoral peace and liable to six months imprisonment or a fine of at least N100,000 or both.

* Also, any person acting for himself or on behalf of any organisation or political party or candidate or his agent with the intention of prejudicing the result of an election, damage or defame, in any manner, the character of any candidate in an election or his family member by making, saying, printing, airing or publishing in the print or electronic media false accusation on any matter shall be guilty of serious corrupt practice and liable on conviction to a term of at least ten years or a fine of ten million naira or both.

* Any person soliciting or giving votes for or against any political party or candidate at an election, or found to affix campaign materials on any private house, public buildings or structures, or prints posters and banners without the name and address of the political party to which the candidate or person belongs contravenes sub-clause (1) to (5) and guilty of an offence and liable to at least five years or a fine of at least ten million naira, or both.

The report stated that the National Electoral Offences Commission Bill, 2021, prohibits any campaign against national interest.

* It provides a 20-years jail term without option of fine for any person who propagates information that undermines the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, or unity of the federation.

* It prescribes 15 years imprisonment for any person who conveys voters to and from the poll; and three years imprisonment for any employee who directly or indirectly exerts undue influence on a voter in his employ.

* While any person who provides false information in any material particular to a public officer will be jailed for three to five years.

* And 10 years imprisonment, or at least N20 million fine or both for any person who uses hate speech to stir up ethnic, religious or racial hatred, social or political insecurity or violence against anyone or group of persons.

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Peoples parliament

Memorila ran through the responses of Nigerians regarding the Nigerian Senate plenary of 13th July, 2021. Here, we sample the best views:

On the Nigerian Senate Facebook thread, there was a digital divide between those supporting the disqualification of Mrs. Lauretta Onochie.

While Datau Simon Senlat believes it was good riddance to bad rubbish, Opuada Charles-Halliday believes her disqualification further shows that President Buhari’s ardent supporters have no place in the sun.

Senlat wrote, “Kudos for rejecting Lauretta Onoche. On electoral bill, any passage without electronic transmission of result is completely waste of time and exercise in futility. It’s an affront to Nigerians and Democracy. It’s an indictment on the popularity and legitimacy of the NASS Members.”

But on his part, Charles-Halliday opines that Mrs. Onoche, who is a staunch supporter of PMB “has been ambushed by the same forces that brought down other committed patriots like Magu, Obla and others who were humiliated and disgraced out of office.”

Charles-Halliday added, “Little wonder why many appointees and politicians do not promote the achievements of this government and defend the president against attacks to his person and government. Most people who play safe enjoy the best of this government.”

He then advised the APC caucus in the senate to borrow a leaf from the ex-president of the United States of America, President Trump and the country’s Republican Party, “on how to handle controversial nominations. The Presidency must know how to navigate the stormy waters of confirmation politics. PMB must reward the lady’s loyalty and commitment to her brief with an apt appointment.”

Seyi Owo on the other hand wrote a long epistle on how Nigeria should be restructured.

Owo wrote, “Restructure Nigeria – These are my suggestions.

“Change the constitution to accept rotational presidency. The President is not the one to unite the Federation. Only one President would not be able to single handedly improve this Federation alone.

“Rezone the Federation into Seven Zones:NW, NE, NCW, NCE, SW, SE, and SS. Each Zone should have their constitution and laws. Each Zone should have Zonal Assembly and Courts. Each Zone to have Zonal Security Service.

“Improvement of this Federation is a collective teamwork effort. Add seven Zonal Presidents from each zone.

“Constitution should state the visions, missions, purposes and core values of Nigeria.

“Amend the Constitution to accommodate Rotational Presidency, Cofederalism of Zones or States, State Resource Control, State Police, Zonal Security Service, and Independent candidacy.

“Stop payments to Political Parties.

“Add Referendum and Process for Secession into constitution.

“Citizens (in private and public capacities) must obtain permits from Zones and States to live, reside, school, trade, learn, receive medical treatment and work. Federal public or civil service citizens or those in emergency life threating circumstances with verifiable valid identity would not need such Zonal or State permits.

“Add Self Defense into the Constitution.

“Each State has the 100% power on farming, animal husbandry and mining activities.

“Offenders of the Law must face and be judged according to State and Zonal laws in courts where crime is being committed.

“Insurgents, Terrorists, Embezzlement, Political Criminals, Bandits, Illegal Miners, Kiddnappers and Armed Robbers should be treated with capital punishment at State or Zonal or National Court levels.

“All Roads within a State should be maintained by the State Government. Trunk A Road should be constructed or reconstructed by National Government.

“Much more to be added…”

Senate President Ahmad Lawan exiting the red chambers. Photograph: @NgrSenate

Adjournment

The Senate Leader moved that other items on the Order Paper be stood down till another legislative day and was seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South, PDP).

Thence, plenary was adjourned to Wednesday, 14th July, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate Plenary of 14th July, 2021 debunked claims that the National Assembly leadership tempered with the Electoral Act (2021).

New Media Unit of the office of the Senate President


Faruk Ahmed

Faruk Ahmed is the founder of Memorila.com. Having previously worked with National Review magazine, he is a keen watcher of political events.

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