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INEC laments delay in Electoral Act amendment

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[FILE PHOTO] INEC chairman Prof Mahmoud Yakubu

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, expressed disappointment that about just a year and nine months to the next general election, National Assembly is yet to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, in his remarks during a public hearing on Electoral Offences Commission Bill, said: “INEC is anxious to know the legal framework to govern the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

“The 2023 general elections will hold on Saturday February 18, 2023, which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days away from today.”

Yakubu said the timetable would be released immediately after the Anambra State governorship election scheduled to hold on November 6, 2021.

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“To do so, there should be clarity and certainty about the electoral legal framework to govern the 2023 general election,” the INEC boss stated.

Yakubu, who expressed support of INEC for the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, however, lamented that the public hearing on it was being done 13 years after the recommendation of the Uwais Committee in 2008.

He noted that INEC is saddled with a lot of responsibilities ranging from registration and regulation of political parties to conduct of elections, registration of voters, delineation of constituencies, conduct of bye-elections, referendum and recall.

“So, it is important, as we consider this bill, to take into consideration those enormous responsibilities that the commission discharges,” Yakubu said.

He disclosed that since 2015 general elections, 124 cases have been filed in court and are being prosecuted.

“So far, we have achieved 60 convictions out of 124 cases, including the latest one that we all know about in Akwa Ibom State.”

The INEC boss said the commission would like to see more prosecution of not only ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of election results, but also their sponsors.

“We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery, including chieftains of political parties and candidates, will be prosecuted.”

In his speech at the event, Chairman of Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, explained: “The bill provides for the commission to investigate and prosecute electoral offenders on the powers of the Attorney General, and adopt measures to prevent, minimise and eradicate electoral offences.”

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