The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the Ninth National Assembly to prioritise amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 as altered ahead of the 2023 general election.
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated this Thursday in Abuja while presenting Certificates of Return to newly elected members of the National Assembly.
He noted that as a matter of urgency, the commission would begin work on post 2019 elections review and road map to 2023 general election.
He said: “There is a lot of work; but very little time available. As a process govern by law, the success of election in Nigeria depends to a large extent on the electoral legal framework and most importantly in ensuring adherence to the law.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to work with the National Assembly to review and strengthen our electoral law. But, I want to appeal to the senators-elect to please start work early and conclude work on electoral framework in a good time well ahead of the 2023 general election.’’
He added that the tendency to delay electoral reform, particularly the review of electoral framework until it is too close to the elections, leaves the commission with little time to develop processes, including regulations and guidelines; makes required consultation with stakeholders and embark on effective voter education, including sensitisation, train staff and organised deployment for the elections.
He was glad that among the senators-elect are senators that the commission has worked very closely with, adding that some of them have taken initiative or even sponsored private member bills to advance the cause of electoral reform.
“We look forward to working very closely with you in the next Senate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the electoral body has maintained grave silence, five days after it suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State.
The commission had on Sunday suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State, after the invasion of the state collation centre by soldiers, which later prompted the setting up of a fact-finding committee to assess the situation in the state, giving the committee 48 hours to submit its report before taking further decision on the stalled election.
However, five days after, the commission has failed to make known the findings of the committee.
The electoral body had said that the initial assessment revealed widespread disruption of the electoral process and the harassment and intimidation of various categories of permanent and ad-hoc staff of the commission.
It stated: “The commission will take a stand when the fact-finding committee submits its report. We urge the people of Rivers State to continue to maintain the peace and await the decision of the commission on the way forward.
“The fact-finding committee will enable the commission to understand the dynamics of the situation in Rivers State. The commission will take a rational and informed decision that accords with the constitution, the law and its regulations and guidelines. The commission is determined to protect the sovereign right of the people of Rivers State to determine those that will preside over their affairs.’’
Meanwhile, a source in INEC told Akelicious yesterday that the commission was yet to take a decision on Imo West senatorial district, whose seat the Governor of the state, Chief Rochas Okorocha contested.
Okorocha’s name was removed from the list of senators-elect published on the commission’s website last week Thursday.
He contested the seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and was declared winner by the Returning Officer, Mr. Innocent Ibeawuchi, who claimed that he was made to announce Okorocha as winner under duress.
This prompted the commission to say that declaration made under duress by its staff would not be accepted by it.
Asked if INEC would conduct fresh election into the district, the source said: “INEC is yet to take any decision, but maybe the commission will take a decision after the supplementary election.”
Meanwhile, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central District, has said that she deserves to be considered a principal officer in the ninth Senate.
The former First Lady of Lagos State, disclosed this Thursday in Abuja while speaking with journalists after she was presented with her Certificate of Return by INEC.
She said that it was time for women to come together and support one another, noting that any woman who is in a position should be there for other women.
According to her, “Wherever God has placed you, the next woman on the street is your sister, is your daughter, and is your mother. One is speaking but you are speaking for all.”