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National assembly must listen to INEC in electoral bill, says Jega

Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega has stated that the national assembly must consider the recommendations of the agency to avoid ambiguity in the electoral act.

This was stated by the former INEC chair after Festus Okoye, national commissioner of INEC, said there is a provision in clause 63 that contradicts the provision for electronic transmission of result in clause 52 of the electoral act.

He had appealed to the harmonisation committees and the national assembly to amend the ambiguous clauses so as not to be used by politicians with selfish agendas to exploit legal loopholes for their own electoral advantages.

Speaking on the issue on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, on Tuesday, Jega said there is a need to harmonise the provisions of the act so as to avoid ambiguity and contradictions in electoral operations.

He asked the harmonisation committees in the bicameral assembly to give “serious consideration” to the recommendations of INEC.

The former INEC chief said any provision of the law that contradicts the use of electronic transmission of results for the 2023 elections must be amended.

“If the national assembly can generally continue to be receptive to genuine concern of citizens in the manner in which they do their legislation, this country would be better for it,” he said.

“There is a need to harmonise provision of the electoral act so that one provision does not contradict another and so that at the end of it those that want to cause mischief will not exploit the ambiguity and contradictory provisions in the law.

“It behooves the two committees of the house and senate that are sitting to harmonise the provisions of the bill to also give serious consideration to suggestions made by INEC.

“It is a value addition that can continue to improve the operations and conduct of elections in our country.

“There is no doubt that we have to go in the direction of electronic transmission of results and where there is any provision that can affect or negate or constrain that effort to transmit results electronically, those provisions need to be carefully looked at and then necessary amendments also exerted.

“The national assembly needs to pay attention to the very important issue that has been raised.

“The harmonisation committee of the national assembly should do the needful in addressing these provisions of the electoral bill that are being raised by INEC.

“In creating a legal framework for the operations of election, it is important that the national assembly listens to the recommendation of INEC.”

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