The National Assembly has perfected plans to create an Electoral Offences Commission in the ongoing constitution amendment, LEADERSHIP Weekend can authoritatively reveal.
It has also concluded plans to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with constitutional power to de-register a political party.
This is contained in a 23-item amendment proposed by the House of Representatives committee on constitution review headed by the deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun. The recommendation have also been approved by a similar committee in the Senate.
Although, section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, empowers the electoral body to de-register parties, following the breach of any of the requirements for registration and failure to make any impact in the elections, there have been arguments that the Act cannot supersede the constitution.
In order to put the controversy to rest, the National Assembly has proposed the amendment of section 225 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) to reflect that INEC can de-register any political party which fails to fulfill certain constitutional requirements.
The proposed amendment seeks to insert a new section, ‘225A’, into the constitution to reflect that INEC shall have power to de-register a political party for failure to win at least twenty-five per cent of votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election or local government of the state in a governorship election or one ward in the chairmanship election or one seat in the National Assembly or State House of Assembly election, or one seat in the councilorship election.
According to a document exclusively obtained by our correspondent, “this alteration seeks to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties for non-fulfillment of certain conditions such as breach of registration requirements and failure to secure/win either a Presidential, Governorship, Local Government chairmanship or a seat in the National or State Assembly.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission shall have power to de-register a political party for – breach of any of the requirements for registration; failure to win at least twenty-five percent of votes cast in one- (i) State of the Federation in a Presidential election, or (ii) Local Government of the State in a Governorship election;failure to win at least- (i) one ward in the Chairmanship election, (ii) one seat in the national or State House of Assembly election, or (iii) one seat in the Councilorship election”, the document states.
The ongoing amendment also provides sufficient time for the commission to conduct rerun elections from 7 to 21 days, taking into account the logistics and planning that is required such as printing of new ballot papers for the elections.
According to the lawmakers, the 7 days provisions stipulated in the extant does not give sufficient time.
In a proposed amendment to Section 134 of the constitution, the lawmakers subtituted in subsection 4, by substituting for the figure,“7” in line 2, the figure “21” and in subsection (5), by substituting the figure, “7” in line 2, the figure “21”.
In the case of election of governors, section 179 of the Principal Act is altered- (a) in subsection (4) by substituting for the word ‘seven” in line 2, the figure “21”; and (b) in subsection (5) by substituting for the word “seven” in line 2 the figure, 21.
There is also an alteration of Section 153 which seeks to establish an Electoral Offences Commission by inserting after paragraph (b) a new paragraph (ba).