By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
A bill to make provision to cover the vacuum in the event of the death of a governorship candidate before the conclusion of an election passed the second reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Sponsored by the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and six others, the bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 2010 to empower election tribunals and courts to declare the deputy governorship aspirant as winner in the event of the death of the governorship aspirant.
It also seeks the declaration of the candidate with the second highest vote as winner if the tribunal finds that the winner of the election was unqualified ab initio.
The bill is intended to address issues such as were thrown up when the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Abubakar Audu, died before the conclusion of the last governorship elections in Kogi state, resulting in Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring the election inconclusive.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami had posited that the APC can substitute the late Audu with the second placed candidate in the party primaries, now Governor Yahya Bello.
The deputy candidate to Audu, Hon. James Faleke who is currently in Court challenging Bello being picked as Audu’s replacement, was absent from plenary.
The sponsors of the bill also seek the inclusion of use of the card reader into the Electoral Act, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination in political parties.
Gbajabiamila in his argument, said the inclusion would codify what is already part of the process.
“The courts have insisted that the card reader is an in-house regulation of the electoral umpire, INEC and that it’s not embedded in the Electoral Act. And for that reason the Supreme did not recognise it as law,” he said.
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