INEC Proposes Amendments to the Electoral Law

By Okoye Chibuzo/ Nathaniel Gana on 03/03/2020

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The Independent National electoral commission INEC, on Monday, said it will propose amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill to achieve a strong, desirable electoral system.

The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, listed eight critical factors on which current effort to review Nigeria's electoral legal framework must be anchored.

He stated this at a retreat organized by the Commission in conjunction with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to review the country’s Electoral Legal Framework on 2nd March in Lagos.

The Chairman stated that it is imperative to review the legal framework of the electoral system after listening to Nigerians and from various review meeting of the commission evaluating the 2019 general elections.

He stated that the critical factors include; "enhancing the transparency and credibility of the electoral process to increase citizens’ confidence; entrenching internal democracy within political parties; ensuring inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalised segments of the society such as women, youths and persons living with disability, and reducing the cost of elections"

others include: "curbing the incidence of violence and sundry malpractices in the electoral process; ensuring that violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned; deepening the deployment of technology in elections; and increasing the autonomy/independence (both administrative and financial) of the electoral commission"

Yakubu said that the decision to organise the retreat is to finalise INEC’s comprehensive proposal to the National Assembly for the proposed amendment to the electoral law.
He said that the Commission had, late last year, received from the Senate Committee on INEC, a modified version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which the National Assembly had presented to the Executive for assent before the 2019 general election asking them to make input into areas that will strengthen the proposed legislation.
Explaining the effort so far he said,  

“In turn, the Commission shared the draft Bill internally with the National Commissioners and Directors at the Headquarters as well as the Resident Electoral Commissioners and senior officials in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for comments. These comments have now been compiled into a draft document that this retreat will discuss and validate as the Commission’s position on the electoral legal framework.

“The Commission’s draft document has also taken the comments and suggestions by stakeholders into consideration, especially following the conclusion of the 2019 general election. You will recall that the Commission had organised a series of post-election review meetings ending with a retreat here in Lagos in July last year. Participants in the series of consultative meetings strongly canvassed for electoral reforms at the heart of which is the review of the electoral legal framework.

“For an enduring review, the Commission looked at the electoral legal framework comprehensively. The Commission reviewed existing provisions concerning elections in both the Constitution and the Electoral Act, although, for this retreat, the focus of attention is on the Electoral Act. The procedure for constitutional alterations is handled separately, including a different procedure for harnessing citizens’ input. Our draft is ready but requires further internal review ahead of submission to the National Assembly.”

The Commission's Chairman admonishes the participants that the Commission’s input cannot be limited only to the review proposed by the National Assembly. 
“As election managers, we conduct elections. We also monitor pre-election activities such as party primaries and handle post-election processes, including the outcome of litigations. 

"Therefore, we must, at this meeting, cast our nets wide by dissecting the electoral act in the light of experience and proposing wide-ranging amendments that will give the nation an electoral legal framework that can truly protect their choice and guarantee free, fair and credible elections.”

The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos, Mr Sam Olumekun said the retreat shows the seriousness with which INEC takes its constitutional assignments.

He also observed that the legal framework for the conduct of the election “is undoubtedly the foundation and credibility by which the success of an election can be determined.”

In her part, the Director Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola outlined the expectations of the retreat while noting that recent experiences in the electoral space had revealed shortcomings in the legal framework which should be addressed by proper legislation.

"This retreat was intended to articulate the position of the Commission in enhancing the Electoral Legal Framework; generate robust discussions and propose amendments to the Electoral Act that will be comprehensive, concise, acceptable and easy to implement for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections; provoke discussions to strengthen the processes and procedures for voter registration and discuss the use of technology in elections", she said.

Mr Hermann Thiel, the Country Director of IFES  and Project Coordinator of ECES, Ms Maria Teresa Mauro appreciated the Commission for coming up with retreat.  

The duo pledged their organization's commitment towards strengthening of the electoral process in Nigeria. 

 

Posted on March, 3 2020

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