Enugu Assembly passes 2024 ENSIEC amendment bill

The Enugu State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed the 2024 Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission, ENSIEC, amendment bill.

The bill, assented to by Gov. Peter Mbah, would mandate political parties to pay money to ENSIEC, to enable them participate in the Local Government election.

Leading a debate on it, the Minority Leader of the House, Mr Iloabuchi Aniagu, disclosed that sections 5, 7, and 10 of the ENSIEC Law were amended to conform with the reality.

Aniagu noted that the amended section 7 makes it now compulsory for political parties to pay for the Local Government elections.

He stated that this would make the state government not to solely finance LG polls, as the government has limited resources to undertake such expenses.

The minority leader added that the bill also sets the age of a prospective ENSIEC chairman to fall between 30 and 75 years, arguing that this would give young people the opportunity to participate in the electoral system of the state.

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Also, Mr Okey Mbah, representing Nkanu East Constituency, said the amendment of the bill was geared towards ensuring that the electoral body conduct credible elections.

Mbah pointed out that the ENSIEC chairman would now be mandated to resign from the office, if she or he wants to contest for the LG election, three months before the primary election.

However, Mr Harrison Ogara, representing Igbo-Eze South Constituency, disagreed with the charging of political party money for the conduct of Local council polls in the state.

Ogara noted that section 7 was in contravention of the 2022 Electoral Act and as such should be scraped, adding that it is improper to ask political parties to pay money before participating in any election.

The lawmaker predicated that the controversial section would be challenged in court by aggrieved individual or political party.

Ogara requested that the ENSIEC should adopt and use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS in the next election, for the sake of transparency.

In his response to Ogara’s request, the Speaker of the House, Chief Uche Ugwu, noted that the state government was not financially stable to deploy BVAS for the next LG elections.

Ugwu expressed the hope that the amended sections would be for the good of the residents of the state, whom, he said, always participate in the election of local government officials.

The House thereafter adjourned its plenary to Tuesday, Feb. 20.

 

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