After PEPT judgment, what’s next for Nigeria’s electoral system? - LagosTrend

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Friday, September 8, 2023

After PEPT judgment, what’s next for Nigeria’s electoral system?

Following the outcome of the 2023 presidential election and the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday, Nigeria finds itself at a crucial juncture. The focus has now shifted to how Nigeria can improve its electoral system to foster a stronger democracy. Saturday Vanguard shares the opinions and insights of key stakeholders, highlighting their recommendations for reform. Amend 1999 Constitution, Electoral Act —Obi, ICPC’s Head of External Cooperation Kingsley Obi, the Head of External Cooperation at ICPC, shared his perspective on the matter. He expressed his disappointment, stating that it was a missed opportunity for greatness and progress in Nigeria’s 24 years of democracy. He attributed this setback to the failure of politicians, INEC, the government, and the masses to abide by the rules. Obi emphasized the significance of addressing the 2023 elections’ outcome as a critical national issue, urging decisive steps to be taken. “I speak as one who voted with great expectations and also encouraged others to do so. We monitored theelection and submitted a report,” he said. When asked about his vision for Nigeria’s future, Obi passionately replied, “I love the dreams of the future more than the history of the past.” His words reflected a strong belief in the potential of Nigeria to overcome its challenges and forge a better future. So, what is the way forward? He agreed that amending the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution are a crucial step. He said, “The Electoral Act should be amended to include sanctions for the following: false declaration of election results,requiring government appointees to resign before joining a campaign council, punishment for not uploading election results in realtime, penalties for the late arrival of materials, sanctions against law enforcement agents who aid in election rigging or disruption, and a revised election timetable for both parliament and the executive branch. Additionally, the Constitution should be amended to include the following provisions: no swearing-in of elected officials until all pending cases are resolved, the implementation of time limits for the resolution of election-related cases, similar to the system in Kenya, the establishment of a mandatory schedule for election-related cases with a timeline for their conclusion, and the creation of an independent electoral offenses commission.” Similarly, Deji Adeyanju, a renowned activist and legal scholar, argues that the Electoral Act (2022), as amended, is not yet watertight. He suggests that further amendments are necessary to enforce the mandatory electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Adeyanju said, “Whenever discretionary powers are bestowed upon an individual or institution, that entity is free to exercise their discretion in any manner they choose. We must amend the electoral act to require the compulsory electronic transmission of results from polling units on Election Day. I have previously expressed my concern when people were celebrating the amendment of the electoral act, as it granted INEC discretionary powers regarding the electronic transmission of results. We must further amend the Electoral Act to mandate exclusively electronic transmission of results for all elections in the country.”

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