The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has disclosed that amendments to the Electoral Act will seek for stringent punishments for election violators.
Yakubu who spoke at a retreat on the Review of the Electoral Legal Framework on Monday in Lagos, said the process for the review of the Act has begun.
According to him, INEC in late last year received the draft of the Bill from the Senate Committee on INEC which had earlier been presented to the executive for assent before the 2019 general elections.
He explained: “In turn, the Commission shared the draft Bill internally with the National Commissioners, the Directors, the Resident Electoral 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 ensure that violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned. It must deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It will also ensure inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalised segments of the society such as women, youths and persons living with disabilities”, he added.
Yakubu said that the Amendment Bill had made an extensive provision for security of lives and property during elections, noting that it also would ensure that violators of electoral laws would face stiff penalties.
“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 way of penalising electoral offenders so that impunity can be at best reduced or even eliminated completely,” Yakubu said.
Also speaking at the retreat, 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.
On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, INEC, Lagos State, Mr Sam Olumekun, said that Lagos State had 6.5 million registered 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. There is the need to have special courts for electoral offences”, he said.