Supreme Court Rulings: NASS, INEC Mule Electoral Reform, Amendment Of Act | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Supreme Court Rulings: NASS, INEC Mule Electoral Reform, Amendment Of Act

Posted: Feb 13, 2016 at 8:38 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tony Ezimakor


With the storm yet to settle over the Supreme Court’s pronouncements on the 2015 gubernatorial elections petitions in Rivers,  Akwa Ibom and Abia States, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and leadership of the National Assembly may have initiated preliminary discussions on how to strengthen the relevant laws ahead of future elections in the country.

The leadership of both the Senate and Federal House of Representatives is  working with INEC towards an early amendment of the  Electoral Act, a Senate source disclosed,  to give legal backing to innovative reforms adopted by the electoral body which will enhance the acceptability of the 2015 process at state and federal levels.

One of such innovations, the Card Reader, although  criticized in some quarters nonetheless played a huge part in forestalling cases of ballot snatching and other malpractices common during the elections in previous years.

Even so,  a number courts in the country have questioned legality of the Card Reader in determining  alleged widespread cases of over voting disputed by parties in the 2015 elections.

Asides  the Card Reader,  some lawmakers like Senator Mao Ohuabunwa believe that any amendment of the Electoral Act being contemplated  must include expansion of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court  to entertain disputes in all national elections namely the Senate and Federal House of Representatives.
Adjudication in such disputes currently terminate at the level of the Appeal Court.

While it welcomes any actions of the National assembly in enhancing credibility of the electoral process, INEC however insists that it acted within the ambits of the law and constitution in drawing guidelines that included use of the Card Reader in the 2015 poll.

Deputy Director , Public Affairs of INEC,  Nick Dazang explained that the electoral umpire is empowered by both the electoral Act and constitution to draw such guidelines that may be necessary in the performance of statutory function.
He maintained that until the Supreme Court comes out with reasons why it took the decisions in respect of Rivers,Akwa Ibom and Abia States governorship elections, it would be hasty to assume it was as a result of the use of the Card Reader.
“The Supreme Court said it  will explain why it made the pronouncement in the case of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia States. It is only when we receive these judgements that we can sit down with our legal team and see how we respond to these issues.  But bear in mind that INEC derived appropriate constitutional powers to draw up regulations and guidelines that are contained in the guidelines.  Section 160 of the constitution empowers INEC to make these guidelines which includes the use of the card reader. INEC did not go outside of bounds  placed on it by law “, he stressed.