In the just concluded week, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the Commission was currently overburdened with electoral responsibilities, hence it needs to be unbundled before the conduct of the 2023 general elections on Saturday, February 18, 2023 – as works are in the pipeline to establish Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal that would take up the responsibility to issue arrest, investigate and prosecute the electoral offenders.
As it stands, INEC’s responsibilities include, but not limited to: registration and regulation of political parties; registration of voters; delineation of constituencies; conduct of elections, by-elections & referendum; and recall & prosecution of electoral offenses.
He also noted that there was an urgent need for the National Assembly to pass the Amended Electoral Bill in order for the Commission to be clear and certain about the electoral legal framework that would govern the 2023 general election.
The Commission which appears to be committed to introducing electronic voting in the coming 2023 general election, cannot rely on the results from the technological devices to be deployed, unless the use of the devices is backed by law – hence, the call for the passage of the amended electoral act by the Commission.
In the interim, INEC had in recent times reportedly started the procurement of Voters Enrolment Devices (IVED) for the planned Voters Register update processes.
These devices will be used to enroll Nigerians that have attained the age of 18 years, clean up the voters register and acquire additional biometric that will be in consonance with the use of Electronic Voting machines.
We note that the INEC boss’s call for the passage of the amended Electoral Bill by the National Assembly before the conduct of 2023 general election is quite strategic to achieving credible elections going forward as results are transmitted in real time which will reduce easy falsification of election results.
Nevertheless, the introduction of electronic voting without the required legal backing would amount to wasted effort as genuine data from the devices will be meaningless to serve as evidence at the law court.
Hence, in order to give credence to the entire electoral process and strengthen the country’s developing democracy, as Nigerians long for good governance, we expect the lawmakers to pass the amended Electoral Bill and the Electoral Offences Commission Bill soonest.