Chuks Okocha in Abuja
A fresh private bill titled: ‘Electoral Bill Memorandum (Position and Recommendations)’ has been forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration before amending the 2010 Electoral Act.
The private bill, which was sponsored by a citizens-led research-based initiative group known as ‘#FixPolitics’, also called on the National Assembly to carefully consider the bill before it, which seeks to repeal the Electoral Act 2010.
#FixPolitics made the call in a document addressed to the joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission and Electoral Matters.
The new bill was sequel to a request by the National Assembly joint committee on electoral matter which called for a public hearing on ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (as amended) and Enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2020, to Regulate the Conduct of Federal, State and Area Council Elections for Related Matters’.
In the document, ‘#FixPolitics Electoral Bill Memorandum (Position and Recommendations)’, which was addressed to the joint committee, the group pointed out that some sections of the Act were weak, problematic and filled with irregularities, hence its position and recommendations.
In a statement issued by the group Publicist and Spokesperson, Mr. Ozioma Ubabukoh, yesterday, #FixPolitics said: “Our position and recommendations are to engage the existing political order to produce sustained change that guarantees democratic progress and wellbeing of the people.”
According to Ubabukoh, some of the grey areas identified in the Act on which #FixPolitics made its position and recommendations included Section 2-Functions of the Commission; Section 6-Establishment of Offices in each State and FCT; Section 9-Continuous Registration, and Section 12-Qualification for Registration.
Others were Section 44-Format of Ballot Papers; Section 52-Conduct of Poll by Open Secret Ballot; Section 87- Nomination of Candidates by Party; Section 119-157-Electoral Conduct and Section 127-Voting by Unregistered Persons.
Concerning Section 2-Functions of the Commission, #FixPolitics said: “We propose that the National Assembly should take on the role and responsibility of calling for a referendum on a new constitution. The National Assembly should facilitate the process through which the Nigerian people can exercise their constitutional sovereignty to give themselves a constitution. This role is not only consistent with principles of constitutional democracy, it is also a validation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.”
The group also proposed a reduction of the time provided in ‘First schedule-Rules of Procedure for Election Petitions: Sections 12, 14, 16, 18 and 142’.
“Paragraph 12(1), which gives a respondent 21 days within which to respond to a petition, can be shortened to seven days. Paragraph 16(1) which provides a petitioner five days within which to respond to new facts by the respondent, can be shortened to 48 hours,” the group recommended.
#FixPolitics further urged the joint legislative committee to exude the spirit of statesmanship in the amendment to the sections to address the identified deficiencies in the Act, adding: “We expect that the proposed amendment will strengthen transparency and accountability in the country’s electoral system.”