Electoral Act review to set punishment for offenders – INEC

The Independent National Commission (), says that it has begun to review a draft of the Act Amendment Bill that will include stringent punishments for  election violators.

The Chairman of , Prof. Mahmood ,  said this on Monday while declaring a retreat on the Review of the Legal Framework.

He said that  the commission had in late 2019 received the draft of the Bill from the Senate Committee on which 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, the  Directors, the Resident Commissioners (REC) and senior officials in the 36 states and the FCT.

“Listening to Nigerians, it is clear that a review of the Electoral Act and our electoral legal framework in general, must be anchored on curbing incidents of violence and sundry malpractices in the electoral process.

“It is also to that violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned.

”It must deepen the deployment of technology in elections.

“It will also inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalised segments of the  society such as women, youths and persons living with disabilities.”

On the issue of security during elections, said that the Amendment Bill had made an extensive provision for security of lives and property during elections.

It also would that  violators of electoral laws would face stiff penalties, he said.

“As long as violators of electoral laws are not penalised, we will continue to have issues with our elections.

“As part of the reforms of the key components of the Electoral Act, we will like to see the effective sanctions of those who violate electoral laws of this country.

“Any country that does not penalise offenders is doomed and we must find a of penalising electoral offenders so that impunity can be at best reduced or even eliminated completely,” said.

The INEC Director of Legal Services, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, also said that the retreat would serve as the final stage in the commission’s efforts to harvest proposals for amendments to the Electoral Act 2010.

“The objective of the retreat is to provoke discussions to strengthen the processes and procedures for voter registration, the use of technology in elections, registration and regulation of political parties and election dispute adjudication.

“The expectations of this retreat are the harmonisation of all the proposals for amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 for presentation to the National Assembly,” she said.

In his address of welcome; the REC, INEC Lagos State, Mr Sam Olumekun, said that Lagos State  had 6.5million voters, 8,462 polling units and 4,961 voting points during the last general elections.

“In the last general elections, we recorded 17 court cases made up of two governorship petitions, two senatorial cases, 11 House of Representatives and 2 House of Assembly cases.

is the need to have special courts for electoral offences.

“The establishment of special electoral offences courts with defined time frame for prosecution will  ensure speedy administration of justice. .

“We had a matter that lasted for eight , ” he said. (NAN)