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New Law Will Revolutionalise Elections In Nigeria, Says Buhari (Plus 10 Key Provisions)

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President Muhammadu Buhari said the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2022 will revolutionize elections in the country through the introduction of new technological innovations.

He, however, expressed reservation over Section 84 (12) of the new bill, which he said runs contrary to Constitutional provision as it disenfranchises serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at Conventions or Congresses of any political party.

Speaking at the signing ceremony on Friday, President Buhari described the new bill as an improvement over the Electoral Bill 2021.

“There are salient and praiseworthy provisions that could positively revolutionize elections in Nigeria through the introduction of new technological innovations. These innovations would guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens to vote and to do so effectively.

“The Bill would also improve and engender clarity, effectiveness and transparency of the election process, as well as reduce to the barest minimum incidences of acrimony arising from dissatisfied candidates and political parties.

“These commendable efforts are in line with our policy to bequeath posterity and landmark legal framework that paves the way for credible and sound electoral process that we would all be proud of.

“From the review, it is my perspective that the substance of the Bill is both reformative and progressive. I am making this bold declaration because I foresee the great potentials of the Bill.

“Worthy of note include the democratic efficacy of the Bill with particular reference to sections 3, 9(2), 34, 41, 47, 84(9), (10) and (11) among others,” the president said.

Buhari also touched on one aspect of the bill, which he considered as being in conflict with extant constitutional provisions.

He said: “Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at Conventions or Congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election.

“The section provides as follows; ‘No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.’

“This provision has introduced qualification and disqualification criteria that ultra vires the Constitution by way of importing blanket restriction and disqualification to serving political office holders of which they are constitutionally accorded protection.

“The practical application of section 84(12) of the Electoral Bill, 2022 will, if assented to, by operation of law, subject serving political office holders to inhibitions and restrictions referred to under section 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“It is imperative to note that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify, by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution is resignation, withdrawal or retirement at least 30 days before the date of the election.

“Hence, it will be stretching things beyond the constitutional limit to import extraneous restriction into the constitution on account of practical application of section 84(12) of the bill where political parties’ conventions and congresses were to hold earlier than 30 days to the election.

“Arising from the foregoing, with particular regards to the benefits of the Bill, industry, time, resources and energy committed in its passage, I hereby assent to the Bill and request the Nationally Assembly to consider immediate amendments that will bring the Bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting section 84(12) accordingly.”

Summary of ten key provisions of the new Electoral Law

1. Clause 29(1) stipulates that parties must conduct primaries and submit their list of candidates at least 180 days before the general elections.

2. Clause 65 states that INEC can review results declared under duress.

3. Clause 3(3) states that funds for general elections must be released at least one year before the election.

4. Clause 51 says that the total number of accredited voters will become a factor in determining over-voting at election tribunals.

5. Clause 54(2) makes provisions for people with disabilities and special needs.

6. Clause 47 gives legislative backing for smart card readers and any other voter accreditation technology that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deploy.

7. Clause 34 gives political parties power to conduct a primary election to replace a candidate who died during an election.

8. Clause 50 gives INEC the legal backing for electronic transmission of election results.

9. Clause 94 allows for early commencement of the campaign season. By this provision, the campaign season will now start 150 days to the election day and end 24 hours before the election.

10. Clause 84 stipulates that anyone holding a political office – ministers, commissioners, special advisers and others – must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or as a delegate.

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