The Senate yesterday removed the controversy surrounding who succeeds a governorship or presidential candidate who dies before the announcement of the result of an election.
The new bill provides for the conduct of a fresh primary within 14 days to choose a new candidate.The bill, which is the sixth amendment to the 2010 Electoral Act, also provides that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shall suspend the conduct of a new election for 21 days when the death of a candidate is recorded after the commencement of an election and before the announcement of result.
This is coming a year after the sudden death of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abubakar Audu, at the November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State before the announcement of the election result.
The situation generated a case, which was contested to the Supreme Court, as his running mate, James Faleke, believed he must automatically inherit the votes of the deceased candidate. But he lost the case from the lower court to the apex court.
Against this background, a new Section 3 has been inserted into the new Electoral Act. The section provides that: “If after the commencement of poll and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a nominated candidate dies, (a) the Commission shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not exceeding 21 days; (b) the political party whose candidate died may, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh direct primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate; and (c) subject to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection, the Commission shall continue with the election, announce the final result and declare a winner.”
The new bill also provides a legal backing for the use of manual voting in situations where card readers malfunction.
Whereas the manual option has always been adopted as an alternative to the malfunctioning of card readers, the new provision is meant to make the action legally valid.
Since the card reader is mainly needed for accreditation, the new amendment provides that once the presiding officer at the election is convinced that the intending voter is the owner of the voter card, he should go ahead to accredit him.