President Muhammadu Buhari has just signed the amended electoral bill into law. This singular gesture might be his administration’s best legacy. Here are ten reasons why this electoral bill is crucial to the future of the Nigerian electoral process.
Important Facts About the Amended Electoral Bill
Ten key points of the enacted 2022 Nigerian electoral bill.
Early Release of Electoral Funds to INEC
Funding needed for a general election is to be disbursed to INEC not later than a year before the election. This can be found in Clause 3(3) of the bill.
Frankly, this will give the commission ample time to prepare and conduct a credible election.
Electronic Transmission of Results
Clause 50 of the electoral bill, grants INEC the power to determine whether election results are transmitted electronically or manually.
Power to Review Election Results Declared Under Duress
According to Clause 65 of the electoral bill, INEC has the power to examine declarations and returns made under questionable circumstances.
This provision will greatly modify the results management process. Moreover, it will prevent politicians from pressuring election workers to declare fabricated election results that can only be challenged in court.
Political Neutrality of INEC Personnel
According to Clause 8(5), All INEC officers must be politically neutral. A politician or member of any political party is prohibited from being an INEC official.
Also, any INEC personnel with a political affiliation has committed an offence. Such a person is liable to a fine of N5,000,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
Legalizing Electronic Accreditation of Voters
The electoral bill enables voters to be electronically accredited. Either through Smart Card Readers or any other technical equipment chosen by INEC. This can be found in Clause 47.
Inclusions of Disabled Persons
Furthermore, Clause 54 (2) mandates INEC to ensure that persons with disabilities, the vulnerable, and special needs people are assisted at polling units.
This will be done by providing appropriate means of communication, such as Braille, large embossed print, electronic devices, sign language interpretation, or, in appropriate cases, off-site voting.
Redefinition of Overvoting
In elections, overvoting occurs when the total number of accredited voters in a polling unit surpasses the number of votes cast in that polling unit.
Electoral bill, Clause 51 stipulates that the “total number of accredited voters,” will become a deciding factor in the election’s legality.
Early Conduct of Party Primaries and Submission of Candidates’ List
Not later than 180 days (6 months) before the election day, every political party must submit its list of candidates to INEC. These candidates must have emerged from lawful primaries held by the political party. This is according to Clause 29(1) of the 2022 electoral bill.
Early Commencement of Campaigns
Clause 94 of the electoral bill, has extended political parties’ public campaigns from 90 to 150 days before polling day and will finish 24 hours before that day.
Candidate Substitution in the Event of Death in an Election
Additionally, Clause 34 of the electoral bill 2022 permits political parties to hold primary elections to replace a candidate who dies after the polls have begun but before the final results are disclosed and a winner is announced.
In the case of legislative elections, the election will be re-run, and a bereaved political party can have a new primary within 14 days to nominate a new candidate.
However, in presidential and governorship elections, the running mate of the deceased candidate will proceed with the election and select a running mate.
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