INEC set to amend Electoral Act
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it was finalising a comprehensive proposal for constitutional and legal amendments to the Electoral Act.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was quoted as making the assertion during a retreat organized by the Federal House of Representatives' Committee on Electoral and Political Parties Matters in Abuja.
According to the commission's bulletin issued on Wednesday in Abuja, Yakubu said that proposal would be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and legislation in due course.
He said that the proposal for amendment was part of the commission's efforts to curb electoral malpractices in the country.
'We are also looking at some of our guidelines and manual to see what changes are needed in the light of recent experience,' Yakubu said.
He added that work had also commenced on the commission's Strategic Plan for 2017-2021, including the Election Project Plan and the tracking mechanism.
'This will be concluded by December 2016, well ahead of the general elections in 2019.'
The INEC Chairman attributed the high cost of organising elections to required number of personnel to be deployed as well as issues relating to litigations.
He explained that in Rivers, where a re-run election was conducted in March, INEC had to deploy 24,000 ad-hoc staff to the 4,444 polling units with 1,319 voting points.
'Eighty percent of the cost (of Rivers Re-run election) went into the payment of allowances and logistics such as transportation.
'Each and every case that goes to court, INEC is joined and we have to hire lawyers.
'From the last general elections to date, we have been taken to court over 700 times. In fact, in the last one week alone, we have been dragged to court at least 12 times.'
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission had conducted 127 elections in the last six months since the 2015 general elections.
He said INEC had conducted 50 re-run elections in 16 states in obedience to court orders as well as seven by-elections, occasioned by death or resignation in five states.
He added that the commission has 31 more elections to conduct from the 2015 nullified elections, in addition to the forthcoming end of tenure elections for governorship in Edo and Ondo states.
The chairman, however, reiterated the Commission's resolve to conduct transparent, free and fair elections in the country.
He insisted that the Commission would never conclude any election for its own sake.
Yakubu said that many of the challenges slowing INEC down were due to the culture of 'do-or-die politics.'
'INEC is determined to conduct credible elections and conclude them according to the law.
'We will not, we will never conclude any election for its own sake. All elections must be concluded according to the law, processes and procedures, no matter what criticism we take.
'This nation has yearned for free, fair and credible elections and this is our commitment to this country and the process.'