INEC wants amendments to Electoral Act for improved future polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, said it has proposed series of amendments to the current Electoral Legal Framework to improve the conduct of future elections in the country.

INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, made this known while speaking during a retreat on the legal framework for elections by major stakeholders in the commission held at Ikeja, Lagos.

Yakubu said a review of the electoral act and electoral legal framework must be anchored on curbing the incidence of violence and sundry malpractices, among other factors.

According to the INEC boss, increasing citizens’ confidence by enhancing the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, entrenching internal democracy within political parties and reducing the cost of elections, among others were paramount in the reviews.

Specifically, Yakubu stated that the amendments focused on entrenching internal democracy within political parties, ensuring inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalized segments of society such as women, youths and persons living with disability and ensuring violators of electoral laws were effectively sanctioned.

He, however, said the proposed amendments were before the national assembly and would go for the president ’s absent once passed, declaring that the law is in the court of the National Assembly and the executive to assent it.

“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.

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”Listening to Nigerians, it is clear that a review of Electoral Act in particular and our electoral legal framework in general, must be anchored on a number of factors which include, entrenching internal democracy within political parties, ensuring inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalized segments of society such as women, youths and persons living with disability and ensuring violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned,” he said.

Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Sam Olumekun, in his remark, stated that the establishment of special electoral offences courts with a defined time frame for prosecution would ensure speedy administration of justice, recalling: ”In Lagos State, we had a matter that lasted for eight years.”

Olumekun also submitted that the commission should critically examine the issue of conflict of interest amongst the external solicitors that represent the petitioners in other matters.

He said the commission should ensure that such solicitors do not represent any petitioner throughout the period of election petitions in the tribunals and courts of competent jurisdiction.

”The commission should ensure that such solicitors do not represent any petitioner throughout the period of election petitions in the tribunals and courts of competent jurisdiction,” he said.

Also speaking, Director Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, noted that the lacuna in the provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) had been identified and highlighted by the commission and various stakeholders.

She said there had been calls in recent times for the amendment of the electoral legal framework to address these lacunas for improvement of future elections in Nigeria.

“In the aftermath of the 2019 general elections, the commission has again taken another critical look at the electoral legal framework and has come up with its proposals for the amendment of the extant Electoral Act,” Babalola said.

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