Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called for the digitalization of Nigeria’s electoral system.
In a statement on Wednesday, CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, told the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider the suggestion.
The committee on Wednesday held a public hearing on the Bill to Repeal the Electoral Act No. 5, 2010 (As Amended) and Enact the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2020.
CDD said for an electoral system to be transparent, credible, free and fair and above all, meet the expectation of citizens, the law governing the electoral architecture must be spotless from electoral malfeasants.
“CDD firmly holds that it is time to digitalize our electoral system and make our laws inclusive. While the peoples of Nigeria are male and female, as expressed in the preamble of the Constitution, “We the people”, our laws and by extension this Bill continue to refer to holders of position and voters as “he and him.”
“The CDD recommends a gender-neutral and sensitive language in present-day legislation. Masculine languages used in our laws are gender-biased and undermines women and girls’ political participation, which further hinders inclusive governance in Nigeria. We believe, the Electoral Act should correct these male-dominant narratives in legal drafting.
“Having reviewed the proposed Bill, we assert that its Section 8 (4A) should not encourage the Commission’s appointment of a member of a political party. The Section reads: A person who, being a member of a Political Party, misrepresents himself by not disclosing his membership, affiliation, or connection to any Political Party to secure an appointment with the Commission in any capacity, commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine of N5,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of not less than five years or both.”
CDD added that a person who is a member of a political party should not be appointed by the commission at any level.
Hassan said to further address issues around false claims in the affidavit by candidates, there should be a 10-year jail term or option of a fine of N50 million, which shall be paid to the commission’s account within 72 hours of the judgment.
“For any party, that fields a candidate with false information in Section 31 (8), we propose an increase from N1 million in the proposed Bill to N100 million, this should put the political party’s internal democracy in check.
“While we applaud Section 63 (6) which intend to criminalize Presiding Officer that willfully contravenes certain provisions for the transparent poll, we need to also protect these Presiding Officer from win-by-all-mean politicians. We propose that: where the Presiding Officer contravenes those provisions under duress, the Commission shall suspend and/or cancel the result. This proviso affects other Sections, including 76 (3).”
CDD also opined that legal effect be given to the dates already approved by INEC for the conducts of general elections.