The House of Representatives yesterday passed for second reading a bill that seeks to amend the Electoral Act to replace dead presidential or governorship candidate with their running mate.

The bill, sponsored by Reps Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi) and Eucharia Azodo (PDP, Anambra) also seeks to further amend the Electoral Act to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize voting by Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Leading debate on the bill, Rep Karimi said the Act currently does not take care of situation where a candidate dies, which was what led to the controversy in Kogi State in 2015 when the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu died while the election was inconclusive.

He said “the Act is silent about changing of candidates during an ongoing election, although, going by the spirit of Section 33, the Electoral Act 2010 prohibits changing/substitution of candidates during an ongoing election.”

He therefore proposed that “should a flag bearer of a party for a presidential or gubernatorial election dies during the election, the running mate who holds a joint ticket with his superior automatically steps into his shoes so that the said election can be concluded without delay,” he said.

On her part, Rep Azodo proposed additional Sections 118 and 119 to allow Diaspora voting and the method with which it could be done.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the bill to the committees on electoral matters and justice after its second reading.

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