The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it has commenced the process of reviewing the Electoral Act to improve future elections.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while declaring open a retreat on the Review of the Electoral Legal Framework in Lagos, said the draft amendment to the Electoral Act would provide stringent punishment for election offenders.
He said the Electoral Act review must be anchored on curbing violence and sundry malpractices.
He disclosed that the draft of the bill was submitted to the commission by the Senate Committee on INEC late in 2018 and it had earlier been presented to the executive for assent before the 2019 general elections.
“In turn, the commission shared the draft bill internally with the national commissioners, directors, Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and senior officials in the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.
The chairman tasked stakeholders to “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.
He said, “Listening to Nigerians, it is clear that a review of the 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 marginalised segments of society such as women, youths and persons living with disability and ensuring violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned.”
“It must deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It will also ensure inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalised segments of the society such as women, youths and persons living with disabilities,” he said.
Yakubu also stated that the Amendment Bill had made an extensive provision for security of lives and property during elections.
“As part of the reforms of the key components of the Electoral Act, we will like to see effective sanctions on those who violate electoral laws of this country.
“Any country that does not penalise offenders is doomed and we must find a way of penalising electoral offenders so that impunity can be at best reduced or even eliminated completely,” Yakubu added.
Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Sam Olumekun, advocated for the establishment of special electoral offences courts with “defined time frame” for prosecution of offenders, saying that would ensure speedy administration of justice.