Electoral act: Reps propose stiffer punishment for frivolous election petitioners 

Elizabeth AtimeFebruary 8, 20245 min

In the proposed Electoral Act, Rep Waive proposes heavy sanctions and fines against persons who file frivolous election petitions in the courts in a bid to delay proceedings.

The House of Representatives has proposed an amendment in the Electoral Act 2022 to make provisions for heavy sanctions and fines against persons who file frivolous election petitions in the courts in a bid to delay proceedings.

The lawmakers, in a bid to cut expenses in the electoral processes, also proposed an amendment to allow for the Presidential, Gubernatorial, National, and State Houses of Assembly elections to be conducted on a day instead of scheduling them to last for a longer. 

The proposed piece of legislation which scaled through a second reading was sponsored by Rep Francis Ejiroghene Waive (APC, Delta) titled, “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act 2022, and for Related Matters, 2023”.

According to Rep. Waive, the amendments proposed in the bill are five in number and each amendment is drawn from the diverse opinions expressed by the general public, political parties, observers, analysts, etc.

Referring to the 2023 general elections, Rep. Waive noted that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and Electronic Transmission of Results were a major concern and discourse across all parties.

“You will agree with me that the 2023 polls one was of the most meticulously prepared in recent times, under the 2022 Electoral Act as Nigeria advanced from manual accreditation to the use of BVAS, Electronic Transmission of documents, etc.

“However, there are some loopholes in the principal Act and the purpose of this amendment is to address some of the challenges of the last election. To correct the obvious defects in the Act and get us prepared for better elections in the future,” he said.

Here are the amendments to the Principal Act to provide as follows:

“Section 3, without prejudice to the provision of the section and subject to sub-Section (2),  every 10 years the Commission (Independent National Electoral Commission) shall carry out a re-registration exercise of all eligible voters in preparation for the next elections.”

“The second amendment is Section 28 Sub-Section 1 paragraph (C) of the Principal Act to provide, (C) subject to paragraph (A) of this section without prejudice to other sections, election into the office of the President, National Assembly, State House Assembly, and State Governors shall be conducted on the same day.

“(1) The third amendment is on Section 47 Sub-Section (3) of the Principal Act.  A person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a presiding officer for accreditation at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered.

“(2) To vote, the presiding officer shall use a smart card reader or any other technical device that may be prescribed by the Commission, for the accreditation of voters, to verify, confirm, or authenticate the particulars of the intending voter in the manner prescribed by the Commission.

“(3) Where the process accreditation specified in Sub Section (2) above fails, such a voter is automatically disqualified from voting, that is to say, no accreditation, no voting.”

“The fourth amendment is Section 60 Sub Section (5) of the Principal Act to provide that, the presiding officer shall transfer and or transmit the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot electronically.”

“The fifth amendment is on Section 130 Sub Section 2 of the Principal Act, to provide as follows: Notwithstanding the provisions of Sub Section (1) above, any person who presents a frivolous petition to the tribunal shall be liable to pay a huge fine to the respondent if the court so determines the petition to be frivolous and waste of time”, he stated.

Contributing to the bill, Rep. Akıntunde Williams (APC, Ekiti) commended the sponsor of the bill for working in consonance with the provisions of the House Legislative Agenda.

“This is one of the most beautiful pieces of legislation if not the most beautiful in this assembly in my opinion though. This bill sits right in with the legislative agenda because I was one of the drafters of the 10th House Legislative Agenda and one of the key elements of it is the Electoral Reforms and one of the provisions is that the House of Representatives will carefully examine complaints from stakeholders arising from the conduct of the 2024 general elections. Some of the specific areas are to amend the Electoral Act to remedy some of the gaps observed including vague and contradicting provisions,” he stated.

On his part, Rep. Okey-Joe Jessey (LP, Lagos) said “There is a need to conduct elections in one day as economic activities are usually shut down as a result of the conduct of these elections which in turn will obviously affect the economy.”

OrderPaper, in its Legislative Intelligence Forcast Entry (LIFE) article released on Tuesday had rightfully predicted that the amendment to the Electoral Act would take centre stage at the resumed sitting of the House of Representatives.

Elizabeth Atime

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