The Nigerian Senate has begun another process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act.
Propositions of the bill to amend the 2010 electoral act include comprehensive amendments to the Principal Act which is a response in part to a plethora of Supreme Court decisions.
The proposed legislation mandates INEC to accommodate new technologies in the accreditation of voters during elections.
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It enacts a new Section 87 on Nomination of Candidates by Parties for Elections by prescribing maximum fees payable by aspirants and restricting nomination criteria strictly to relevant provisions of the Constitution; and clarifies that under Section 138 (1)(a) of the Principal Act, a person shall be deemed to be qualified for an elective office and his election shall not be questioned on grounds of qualification if, with respect to the particular election in question, he meets the applicable requirements of sections 65, 106, 131 or 177 of the Constitution and he is not, as may be applicable, in breach of sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution.
The Act forbids members of political parties from taking up employment in INEC; mandates INEC to publish the Voters Register for public scrutiny at every Registration Area and on its website at least seven days before general elections.
It also mandates INEC to suspend an election to allow a political party that loses its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.
The bill also grants political parties that nominated candidates for an election a right to inspect its identity and the logo appearing on samples of relevant electoral materials proposed to avoid incessant cancellation of elections due to exclusion of parties from election due to printers errors or deliberate mischief of not including the logos of some parties on electoral materials.
The Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has advocated the need for amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The National Chairman of IPAC, Mr Mohammed Nalabo, said this on Wednesday while addressing a news conference at the end of the Council’s general assembly meeting in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Mr Nalabo noted that an amendment of the act would reduce the spate of inconclusive elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“IPAC is working assiduously with INEC to strengthen the capacity of political parties through voter education, sensitisation of members and the general public, to completely minimise inconclusive elections and promote level playing ground for all political parties.
“We commend INEC in its recent step to discipline erring staff that were allegedly involved in corrupt electoral malpractices.
“IPAC is calling on the constitutional and electoral committee to work assiduously with the National Assembly to ensure effective and prompt amendments of 2010 Electoral Act before the 2019 general elections.
“IPAC urges political parties to imbibe internal democracy in carrying out their activities; we are worried about the increasing leadership disagreement in some political parties.
“We urge leaders of the affected political parties to embrace dialogue and political solution to resolve their differences,” said the IPAC Chairman.
Ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Democratic People’s Congress has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged failure of the electoral body to register the association as a political party.
Lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mr Ezekiel Ofou, in an originating summon, asked the court to determine, whether it was right for INEC in the conduct of its statutory and constitutional duty to neglect, refuse and fail to register the plaintiff’s association, having satisfied all requirements for registration as a political party as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution and the 2010 Electoral Act.
Reverend Olusegun Peters and 4 others, who are the plaintiffs, are praying the court for a declaration that the refusal of the defendants to register their association as a political party was wrong, unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory, unfair and unconstitutional.
They also want the court to declare that the plaintiff’s association is statutorily deemed to have been registered as a political party pursuant to Section 48 Sub-Section 4 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
Presiding Judge, Gabriel Kolawole, subsequently adjourned the suit to April 2 for hearing.