We will scrupulously enforce the laws without fear or favour, says INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it will scrupulously apply the laws, in particular the Electoral Law of 2022, without fear or favour, to ensure free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent elections in 2023.

The electoral body insisted that it was imperative for all stakeholders, in particular political parties, to note the main features introduced by the new electoral law of 2022 and the possible implications of these changes on the elections in come.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu revealed this during the 4th Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture on “Election Law 2022: Imperatives for Political Parties and General Elections 2023”, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The Commission helmsman identified some of the critical changes brought about by the new electoral law, including: the holding of first party primaries, technological changes in the electoral process, the power of the commission to review the decision of returning officers and excessive voting. depending on the number of accredited voters.

Represented by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, the INEC President assured that the arbitrator had no preferred party or candidate and that he would only ensure that that valid votes count and that the winners are decided solely by the voters.

“The use of electronic devices such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), INEC Voter Registration Device (IVED), INEC Results Viewing Portal (IRev ) and other technological devices is now legally permitted in the voter registration process, the collection of results, and in the general conduct of elections.

“Rest assured that these innovations are aimed at deepening the electoral process in our country and that their peak performance in the just-concluded gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States is eloquent testimony to their electoral value. . We will only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election,” he said.

He expressed the hope that the political parties would commit to ensuring that the 2022 general elections would be “free from deliberate breaches of the 2022 electoral law, essentially thereby allowing the electoral process to proceed smoothly, by developing a rich democratic culture and acceptable electoral results. ”

Yemi Akinseye-George, the guest speaker, asserted that politics is not anarchy and a messy game.

According to him, “politics is not anarchy; it is not disorder; it must be punctuated by justice, equity and order.

The law professor also stressed that politics should not be seen as a dirty game, expressing optimism that the 2023 general election will be held against all odds and citing enthusiasm for voter registration as an indicator. of the fact.

While insisting that political parties must obey their own rules, he said: “The Supreme Court has ruled in several cases that political parties must obey their constitutions because the court will not allow them to act arbitrarily or as they wish”.

Akinseye-George explained that the conference focused on political parties as they are the major pillar on which democracy is founded.

“Indeed, the success or otherwise of our democracy is directly linked to the level of enlightenment and the ability of political parties to adhere to the rule of law in their operations,” the researcher said.

He highlighted the constitutional provisions relating to political parties; candidate nomination and political party finances under the Electoral Act 2022 as well as some leading court rulings on political parties and elections.

Also speaking, the organizer of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a body of over 70 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Ene Obi called on INEC to reopen the suspended exercise of continuous registration of voters (CVR) at least for one month.

Obi noted that such a window would allow those who wish to participate in the exercise but are unable, due to technical and other issues, to register so as not to deter them from attempting to exercise their franchise.

She said: “Civil society organizations are advocating and asking INEC to reopen (registration) because many more want to register and we don’t want to dampen their enthusiasm. So, it’s important that they reopen it even if it’s for a month.

“More than 11 million of those who filled out their forms online were unable to complete their registration. That means you lose 11 million voters. This is crap, and INEC should fix it. We are always appealing for more of them to still be able to register. They should open it even if it is a one month window.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director General of the Electoral Institute, Sa’ad Idris, said that the topic of this year’s conference was carefully chosen considering the need and requirements for holding the 2023 general elections under a new law (Elections Act, 2022).

Idris said the speech aims to examine the implications of the new electoral law not only for the Commission, but also, in particular, for the 18 political parties that will field candidates for the various elective offices in the polls next year.

He said: “This subject is also very suitable for training the cadres (national president and secretaries) of the 18 political parties on the different sections of the new law and the critical implications embedded in many of its sections.

“The unfortunate preponderance of numerous court cases arising even from the pre-election period until after the holding of the elections, has indeed repeatedly posed many challenges to the electoral process and the political development of our country as a whole.”

He said it is hoped that with this conference and training for party cadres, appropriate influence can be wielded and reduce the rapid race to the courts that has characterized the political space for the past 10 years.

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