The electoral commission INEC, on Monday, said it will propose 34 amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill that will include punishments for electoral violators.
The Commission also said the bill will make provisions for the security of lives and property during elections.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this in Lagos at a retreat on the review of the electoral legal framework.
The retreat was in partnership with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
Yakubu said the electoral body last year received the draft of the bill from the Senate Committee on INEC which had been presented to the executive for assent before the 2019 general elections.
He added that INEC had shared the draft bill with the National Commissioners, Directors, Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and senior officials in the 36 states and the FCT.
“As long as violators of electoral laws are not penalised, we will continue to have issues with our elections. As part of the reforms of the key components of the Electoral Act, we will like to see the effective sanctions of those who violate electoral laws of this country.
“Any country that does not penalise offenders is doomed and we must find a way of penalising electoral offenders so that impunity can be at best reduced or even eliminated completely,” Yakubu said.
The INEC chairman said the review of the electoral act will increase transparency and credibility of the electoral process, and the reduction of electoral banditry.
“Listening to Nigerians, it is clear that a review of the Electoral Act and our electoral legal framework in general, must be anchored on curbing incidents of violence and sundry malpractices in the electoral process.
“It is also to ensure that violators of electoral laws are effectively sanctioned. It must deepen the deployment of technology in elections.
“It will also ensure inclusivity in the electoral process for marginalised segments of the society such as women, youth and persons living with disabilities,” Yakubu said.
INEC Director of Legal Services, Oluwatoyin Babalola, said the proposed of the retreat was to harmonise all proposals for amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 for presentation to the National Assembly.
Mrs Babalola said, “There are 34 proposed amendments elaborated in four columns.”
Also, Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Sam Olumekun, proposed the need for a special court for electoral offences.
Olumekun noted that the special courts should have a defined time frame for prosecution and speedy administration of justice.
On electoral litigation the Lagos REC also urged the commission to equip the legal department and prepare the staff to represent the commission in election matters.
He said, “The commission should critically examine the issue of conflict of interests among our external solicitors that represent the petitioners in other matters.
“The commission should ensure that such solicitors do not represent any petitioner throughout the period of election petitions in the tribunals and courts of competent jurisdiction.
“While we appreciate the effort of the commission in dealing with legal issues, the commission should continue to equip the Legal Department and prepare the staff to represent the commission in election matters,” he said.