Election expenses for governorship candidates are pegged at N1 billion, while senatorial candidates are to limit their expenses to N250 million.
Fred Itua, Abuja
The senate yesterday passed the rejigged Electoral Act Amendment Bill and restricted election expenses of any presidential candidate to a maximum of N5 billion.
Similarly, they tinkered with the election expenses for governorship candidates, and pegged it at N1 billion, while senatorial candidates are to limit their expenses to N250 million.
Adopting a report submitted by its committee on INEC, the senate approved the amendment of section 91 of the Electoral Act 2010 restricting the election expenses for House of Representatives candidate at N100 million; House of Assembly candidate, N30 million; chairmanship of area council, N30 million while the councilorship candidate must not spend over N5 million.
READ ALSO: Senate passes Electoral Act Amendment Bill
According to the latest amendment, no individual or other entity shall donate N10 million to a candidate just as section 91(10) stipulates that “a candidate who knowingly acts in contravention of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction toafineofoneonepercent of the amount permitted
as the limit of campaign expenditure under this Act or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had previously rejected the Bill three times, citing “loopholes” in some of the sections of the amendments Bill.
In the Bill passed yesterday, Clause 14 was introduced to amend Section 49 (4) of the Principal Act that deals with failure of a card reader.
The report of the committee chaired by Suleiman Nazif said: “Where a Smart Card Reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any polling unit and a fresh Card Reader is not deployed three hours before the close of the election in that unit, then the election shall not hold but be rescheduled
and conducted within 24 hours thereafter, provided that where the total possible votes from all the affected card readers in the unit or units does not affect the overall result in the constituency or election concerned, the Commission shall notwithstanding the fact that a fresh card reader is not deployed as stipulated, announce the final results and declare a winner.”
Clause 24, was also introduced to amend Section 87 (13) of the Principal Act that deals with the issue of deadline for primary election.
The Bill read in part: “The dates of the primaries shall not be earlier than 150 days and not later than 90 days before the date of the election to the elective offices.”
The same section also stipulates a specific period within which political party primaries are required to be held.
Clause 32, was introduced to amend Section 140 (4) of the Principal Act that deals with omission of name of a candidate or logo of a political party.
It stated that “if at the point of display or distribution of ballot papers by the Commission, a candidate
or his agent discovers that his name, the name or logo of his party is omitted, a candidate or his agent shall notify the Commission and the Commission shall postpone the election to rectify the omission; and appoint another date to conduct the election, not later than 90 days.
“Where the election is postponed due to omission of a political party’s name or logo, the Commission’s officer responsible for such printing of party names or logo commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2 million or both.”
The main objectives of the amendment Bill, according to the Senate, includes “to provide for the use of Card Readers and any other similar technological devices in conducting elections; to provide a timeline for the submission of list of candidates as rightly captured in Section 31 (6) and 85 (l) of the Bill; to identify criteria for substitution of candidates, limit of campaign expenses; and to address noticed problems related to the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties.”
The committee chairman, however said all the issues raised by President Buhari have been addressed in the adopted report, adding, “Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, at this juncture, it is worthy to state very clearly that all the issues raised by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while declining his assent to this Bill have been captured and addressed.”
The senate, after passing the Bill into law, commanded the committee, adding that it is waiting for
President Buhari to assent the Bill.
Senator Emmanuel Bwacha expressed hope that the president will not return the Bill.
“Everything that needs to be done has been done. It involved both PDP and APC, anything that will not make the Bill to be assented to will be sending a bad signal.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, shortly after the approval of the Amendment Bill, hailed the committee.
“This will go a long way to improving our election and I am sure Mr President will assent this Bill,” he stated.