By; IYOKPO J. EGBODO, Abuja
A proposal for the inclusion of electronic card readers in an amendment bill to the Electoral Act, 2010 on Tuesday pitched members of the House of Representatives against themselves on party lines.
The bill which was jointly sponsored by Hon. Sunday Karimi and three others, seek to make it possible for Nigerians living abroad to vote during general polls, and empower the vice presidential and deputy governorship candidates to assume the position of their party candidates, in the event that the candidate for the post of president, and governor dies before the completion of an election, among others.
Minority Leader of the House, Hon Leo Ogor, argued that the Electronic Card Reader was an instrument used to disenfranchise many Nigerians during the 2015 general elections, stressing that if the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) wants to introduce electronic voting, it should do so, but that the PDP will block any attempt to introduce same in the Electoral Act.
“Card reader is an instrument of disenfranchising Nigeria. INEC should wake up to their responsibility. We should go for clear electronic voting. Any attempt to introduce the card readers into the Electoral Act, we will go fully against it,” the lawmaker said.
Also, Hon Toby Okechukwu, a member of the PDP also argued that such a device that failed to recognize the finger prints in the person of a sitting President in the last election needed a deep and critical look at.
However, Majority Whip, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa opposed the earlier statements, noting that the card reader was meant to curb electoral fraud, and so must be in the Electoral Act.
“No amount of argument can convince me that card reader is not an electronic device. The usage of the card reader is a deliberate attempt to fight electoral corruption. It is a very good bill. Card Reader must survive and be included in the Electoral Act. Whoever found himself as a victim of card reader should have himself to blame”, he argued.
Earlier, Karimi said if the proposed amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act sails through, it will address the controversy that arose during the last gubernatorial election in Kogi State, where the APC candidate, late Abubakar Audu died while the election was still on, among other things.
The Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara who presided over yesterday’s plenary subsequently referred to bill to the House Committees on Electoral Matters, and Justice for further legislative action on the proposal, just after majority of members voted in support of its second reading .