Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, has urged amendments to the 2022 Electoral Act. While acknowledging the strength of the country’s electoral law, Jega emphasized that there is room for improvement. He called for amendments to eliminate ambiguities, enhance clarity, and reinforce certain sections,Daily Trust report.
Speaking at a two-day retreat organized for senators by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, Jega made several key recommendations:
- Mandatory Electronic Transmission of Results: Jega proposed that amendments should require the electronic transmission of election results from the next general elections in 2027. This would enhance transparency and accountability in the electoral process.
- Depoliticizing INEC Leadership: Jega suggested that the President’s power to appoint the chairman and National Commissioners of INEC should be removed to ensure the independence and impartiality of the commission.
- Timely Resolution of Election Disputes: Jega recommended that the law should be revised to ensure that all election-related cases are resolved, and judgments are delivered before the date of swearing-in.
- Clarification of Result Transmission: Jega urged clarity in section 64 of the Electoral Act concerning the process of result transmission. This clarification should include the compulsory uploading of polling unit-level results and result sheets used at different levels of result collation.
- Voting for Essential Service Personnel: He called for early voting or special arrangements to allow eligible voters on election duty, such as INEC staff, observers, security personnel, and journalists, to cast their votes, especially during presidential elections.
- Diaspora Voting: Jega advocated for diaspora voting, particularly for presidential elections, to enable citizens abroad to participate in the electoral process.
- Inclusion of Women: Jega recommended enhancing the inclusion of women by reserving up to 35% of elective positions in parliament and on all political parties’ candidate lists for women.
- Restricting Cross-Carpeting: He proposed that cross-carpeting by elected officials should be prohibited not only for members of the National Assembly but also for elected executives, governors, and chairpersons of local government areas.
- Stricter Candidate Withdrawal and Replacement: Jega recommended stringent conditions for candidate withdrawal and replacement to prevent abuse. INEC should be empowered to screen and, if necessary, disqualify candidates with forged credentials or other forms of criminality.
- Public Scrutiny of Nominees: Jega suggested that nominees for INEC appointments, outside political parties and tax-paying citizens, should have the right to file suits against candidates providing false information to INEC. The appointment process should be transparent and non-partisan, with guidelines for submitting petitions against any nominee.
These proposed amendments aim to enhance the integrity and fairness of Nigeria’s electoral system.