By Onome Oghenetega
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has clarified why he voted in favour of the amendment of the controversial Clause 52(3) of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which gave conditions under which election results can be electronically transmitted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Senate during a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill before its passage on Thursday approved the electronic transmission of results provided that such areas are adjudged by the National Communications Commission (NCC) to be adequately covered under its national coverage and approved by the National Assembly.
Following the development, some constituents and Nigerians from the Southern part of the country who are majorly of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took to the social media to attack the Delta Central senator.
But Omo-Agege in a statement on Saturday denied voting against Electronic Transmission (E-Transmission) of election results during passage of the bill on Thursday on the floor of the Red Chamber.
The statement signed by his Special Adviser on Legislative & Plenary Matters, Prince Efe Duku, the Deputy Senate President explained that his decision to support the amendment of the clause was supported by data from NCC that E-Transmission of results could only be possible in less than 50% of all electoral domains in the country.
Omo-Agege said he voted to support an amendment of the clause to protect the interest of his constituents and to ensure there are no discrimination in the E-transmission of election results by the electoral umpire.
“As a chief architect of and resourceful actor in the ongoing electoral reform, Senator Omo-Agege supports Electronic Voting (E-Voting) as contained in Clause 52(2) of the Bill and this was duly passed by the Senate. This is a major gain for our democracy. It has huge annihilating consequences for historical election rigging in our polity, but we shall not say more for now.
“Our people should therefore discountenance any mischievous commentary or speculation to the contrary. Those grandstanding with mischiefs as their only weapons of offence are only labouring in vain. Their defeat was perfectly executed by a majority of the Nigerian Senate. Not being democrats, they believe they may still achieve their sinister agenda through misinformation and outright falsehoods. That will not stand.
“Further, the Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege did not vote against E-Transmission of election results. Rather, the Deputy President of the Senate wisely and courageously voted for an amendment to Clause 52(3) of the Bill (on E-Transmission) to guarantee secure E-Transmission of all election results and uniform application of E-Transmission everywhere in the country, not just some parts of it.
“In simple terms, The Obarisi of Urhoboland voted to support an amendment that ensures, for example, that INEC does not transmit only election results in Urhobo electronically while other areas may have their results transmitted otherwise and safely. For him, all election results must be treated equally under a uniformly applied standard.
“Indeed, Senator Omo-Agege as an erudite lawyer knows that it is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to enact an Electoral Act that is inherently discriminatory in its design and intended application. For him, to pass the test of constitutional validity, the law must apply uniformly to all electoral domains in the country, otherwise such a law could be easily struck down by a court if taken for judicial reviews by those who may be negatively impacted.
“Further, in arriving at his thoughtful decision, Senator Omo-Agege was guided by unimpeached data from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) that E-Transmission of results is only possible in less than 50% of all electoral domains in the country.
“For him, the message from this data is that if INEC is allowed unfettered E-Transmission power, then there will be unequal treatment of election results and that would be a fundamental lawmaking flaw. So, he stood firm to prevent such a move that would have led to a needless waste of legislative resources and time.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby confidently assure our people that all is well as far as the ongoing Electoral Reform is concerned. Senator Omo-Agege as a leading champion of the reform since he first stepped into the Red Chamber in the 8th Senate is protecting the best, strategic interest of our people and the Nation”, Omo-Agege said.