End to election violence: NASS loses sleep over electoral act amendment

L-R Prof Okechukwu Ibeanu, Prof. Atahiru Jega and Hon. Prince Adebayo Balogun, Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters

Worried about the spate of election violence during election year in Nigeria, One of the Principal office holder at the National Assembly, has revealed that efforts are being made to end the menace by creating more agencies to complement duties of overwhelmed Independent Electoral Commission INEC.

This revelation was made by the Chairman House Committee on Electoral Matters Hon. Prince Adebayo Balogun, in Abuja Tuesday, during paper presentations prepared to educate Nigerians on elections violence, entitled “Citizens’ Rights and Impact of Insecurity During Elections”, organized by The Electoral Hub.

Hon Balogun reminded that in so far as there is the need for a review of the electoral act, that there are other areas that the National Assembly possibly needed to pay more attention to help relieve The INEC of cumbersome duties. These areas he said include setting up other agencies to oversee matters of voter’s education and enlightenment, others include security and other issues of violence and prosecution of offenders.

” These areas we think need to be taken away from the INEC and should be handled by other professional bodies during elections. We know that issue of logistics is key and professional agencies should be there to handle it so that INEC may concentrate on other matters. INEC we know is overwhelmed of different categories of duties and that is why some INEC officials do not take other responsibilities during elections because of so much pressure coming from different areas”.

The Chairman House Committee on Electoral Matters, when asked about the possibility of the amendment bill scaling through against the will of politicians at the National Assembly, he posited that the laws are not always made for the present National Assembly members, but for the entire Nigerians and the future generations. He said that the fear of present National Assembly members should not in any way stop Nigerians from presenting motions to be enacted into laws.

He, however, appeals to Nigerians including the media, to always try and submit proposals to be sponsored as motions to form part of the law. “It baffles me that Nigerians always only talk at the comfort of their homes but fail to submit papers to form public opinions and laws at the National Assembly. You people knew that the National Assembly does not pass any bill into law without throwing it open for public consideration. So, we should always come forward to add our voice whenever such calls are made because through this we know and feel the pulse of the people”.

Also speaking, while declaring the Conference open former INEC Chairman Prof Atahiru Jega, inundated the need for the review of the electoral act but not without praises to the latest technology used in conducting the 2023 general elections, which he said had formed part of innovations needed to upgrade the system.

Prof. Jega, noted that conference like this, has become necessary and to form a guide to the forthcoming off season elections in three states such as Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states, stating that the outcome of the conference should make a difference as far as election violence is concerned.

Prof. Jega, said, “We want all hands to be on deck and for us to continue to make progress from each election we conduct not to go back instead. We all should come out and ensure that this becomes a reality. We are hopeful that the National Assembly should take a look at all the submissions from all the paper presented and make reasonable recommendations for the electoral act amendment. It is obvious that our elections are bedeviled by insecurity caused by electoral violence. It is also noteworthy that insecurity and election violence is disruptive to social and economic strength of our society. The aim here is to cub or to eliminate during elections all forms of election intimidation and our resolutions should include those things that need to be done.”

The INEC Chairman, who was represented at the occasion by Mr. Mohammed Kuna, stated that the commission, is ready to adhere to every law promulgated to end election violence across Nigeria. “The commission is ready to welcome new innovations. The commission since inception, has always welcomed new discoveries, and initiative taken to introduce Bivas machine and PVCs.

The Director, Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, the organizers of the event, said that as a CSO, that its effort, is to make recommendations to the National Assembly and INEC on the dangers of election violence and the right and impact of insecurity on every Nigerian during elections.

“There is no doubt that election violence impinges on the participation of everyone in an election. We are here to make this paper presentation, and these becomes our recommendations so that it would help in conducting the off-season elections coming up in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states in November 11th. And subsequently forms part of recommendation for the review of Electoral act in Nigeria”.

Former INEC National Commissioner, prof Okechukwu Ibeanu, in his lead paper presentation, highlighted areas where the National Assembly should pay more attention to make amend. These key areas include. Election generated violence, election amplified violence, election sustaining violence and election structural violence. These he said are bi- products of poor voters’ education by the authority concerned.


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