Member of Parliament for Daboya-Mankangu, Shaibu Mahama, has observed that the Electoral Commission (EC) has major work to do in order for the Constitutional Instrument (CI) it laid in Parliament to pass.The CI, which was expected to give legal backing to the Commission to compile a new voters’ register had defects that were highlighted at a meeting between the EC and the subsidiary legislation Committee. 

The instrument has been jettisoned out of the House twice since it was laid before Parliament over two weeks ago.

Shaibu Mahama, in an interview in Parliament, noted that the haste to pass the CI without following laid down procedure is the result of the present predicament. The Subsidiary Legislation Committee, he said, will not sit down for Parliament to pass a bad law, especially when judges have had cause to chastise the House for allowing laws and procedures to be flouted in such circumstances.

“We pointed out to them that if these things are not corrected we are not in a position to pass it. We will write a report to plenary that these are the errors.”

“So it is in their interest to withdraw it and effect the corrections and come and lay it again,” he stated.

The legislator noted, however, that even amending the schedule to take out the existing voters’ ID card and drivers’ license as permissible documents for the registration would not be enough for the EC to go ahead with the exercise.

According to him, there is a huge stumbling block in the current law, the CI 91, which defines a national ID card to include a voter registration card or a card issued by the EC commissioner.

He stressed that the national identity card interpretation section of the current law would also have to be amended otherwise what the EC is doing will amount to nothing.

“The interpretation section of the current law defines the national ID to include the voter registration card”

“So even if you take it out a person can still go to court and challenge the EC to find out what the national ID means and that it includes a voters’ card,” he said.

Mr. Mahama stressed that even if the schedule is amended correctly the interpretation section of the current law would also have to be amended to reflect the new CI. The plan to compile a new register ahead of the general elections in December has sparked a lot of controversies, with many parties and groups disagreeing with the move.

Eighteen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have also rejected the Electoral Commission’s proposal to compile a new electoral roll ahead of the 2020 elections. These groups have cited the reason for their rejection as among other things, a waste of the taxpayers’ money. They rather urge the EC to update the current software rather than procuring a new one.