BusinessDay

CDD wants N/ASS to pass Electoral Act with E-voting

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on the National Assembly to yield to the yearnings of Nigerians and deliver an electoral law that will secure the country’s hard-earned democracy and deliver an electoral ecosystem that respects the choices of Nigerians.

The centre’s call is coming on the heels of insinuations that the electronic transmission of election results has been expunged from the bill ahead of its passage before the National Assembly embarks on annual recess this week.

CCD in a statement signed by its director, Idayat Hassan and made available to the media recommended that the proposed legislation must provide for full use of technology across the electoral spectrum to enhance traceability of voting activity across board.

It also recommended that to prevent abuse, there should be clear provisions that allow Returning Officers (ROs) to correct unit results.

The centre further suggested that the increase on the limit on campaign spending should be proportionate with the percentage of inflation to keep Nigeria’s democracy representative of vulnerable constituencies like women and youths.

According to CDD, the recommendation of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions for a three-year rolling plan for elections should be reflected in the amendment to guarantee timely logistical needs ahead of elections.

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It added that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be given powers to review already declared election results, where there is clear evidence that the RO was forced to declare a false election result.

“While acknowledging positive changes reflected in the bill, CDD West Africa highlighted some amendments proposed that are capable of reversing accumulated gains recorded in the past decades.

“Of particular concern is the prohibition on the transmission of votes electronically. Electronic transmission of votes is a core component of the recommendations for full digitisation of the electoral process that we made ahead of this amendment.

“Again, the proposed bill gives Returning Officers (RO) powers to correct unit results. While CDD acknowledges that there are occasions where unit results genuinely need to be changed, there is a need to include a proviso that will prevent abuse of those powers.

“CDD argues the proposed limits are extremely high. The new limit for Presidential Election, for example, is a fifteen-fold increase, while the limits for gubernatorial a candidate are increased twenty-five fold. The centre argues that the proposed increment will constitute a major hurdle to the political advancement of women and youth candidates.

“CDD notes that without clearly making provisions for a three-year rolling plan and twice-yearly disbursement of budgeted funds to INEC as recommended, the electoral body may still struggle to meet the logistical requirements of delivering credible elections. This concern is not conjecture – the last three general elections were postponed as a result of the ad hoc nature of election funding in the country.

“A final matter of concern is that the bill denies INEC powers to review already declared results in situations where there is evidence that ROs were forced by threats to declare the wrong candidate as the winner. CDD believes that ignoring this provision puts the lives of electoral officers further at risk, as there is a likelihood that politicians will further explore this method of rigging”, the statement read in parts.

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