INEC, AGF, Omo-Agege okay Electoral Act amendment

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ALL appears set for the much-anticipated review of the nation’s electoral laws ahead of the 2023 general election.

Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege as well as Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami pledged on Monday to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s quest for Electoral Reform.

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They spoke in Abuja during the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) stakeholders’ forum on elections. NCSSR is a coalition of civil society organisations led by Clement Nwankwo of   the   Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

INEC chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said electronic voting systems could only be introduced into the nation’s electoral process when the nation was sure of the appropriate technologies, provide infrastructure, to address cyber security, among other challenges.

According to him, the country was not there yet. He expressed confidence that his agency could achieve electronic collation of results (e-collation) and electronic transmission of results(e-transmission) during the 2023 elections.

Represented by INEC National Commissioner Festus Okoye, Mahmood stressed the need for any review of the Electoral Act to further strengthen his agency’s regulatory capacity and independence.

He said: “The commission (INEC) must be the major driver in the introduction of new technologies in our electoral process.

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“Electronic voting systems are dynamic and the appropriate time for the introduction of each aspect must be clearly thought out taking into consideration the appropriate technology, the state of infrastructure in the different parts of the country, environmental issues, cyber security matters, procurement challenges, the level of literacy in the country and other sundry matters.

“Towards these, the legal framework for the adoption of such technologies would be the first most important step before any other steps.  We acknowledge the introduction of a bill to establish an Election Offences Commission and Tribunal and state unequivocally that we support it.

“Our country must break the cycle of impunity in the electoral process and bring to justice the violators of the sovereign right of the people to clean elections.

We urge you to critically examine aspects of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) that will strengthen the electoral legal framework and enhance the power of the vote.

“It is also important to emphasis the collective nature of electoral reform, and draw attention to the fact that electoral reforms should not end at the level of retooling the legal framework, but should also extend to attitudinal issues bordering on curbing impunity and the development of a culture of tolerance and sportsmanship.

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“The commission will remain transparent and accountable in its dealings with the Nigerian people and will continue to consult with critical stakeholders on major policy issues and issues around its regulations, guidelines and manuals.

“However, the commission will not share its constitutionally and legally guaranteed regulatory powers with any individual, Political Party, groups or organizations. Rather, the commission will approach the National Assembly with new proposals to further enhance its regulatory powers and the provision of clarity on grey areas that have been exploited to whittle down its powers.

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