Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Friday advocated for the use of electronic technology in the conduct of elections in the country.
Dogara, while speaking at a retreat of the House Committee on Electoral Matters and Political Party Matters urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the committee, to discuss and resolve some of the pending and unresolved issues on the use of electronic voting in the country.
He noted that some of the challenges will require constitutional amendments in the bid to plug loopholes encountered in the course of the conduct of the elections in the country.
“It will be important for instance, for this retreat to discuss some of the pending and unresolved issues on increased use of technology for the conduct of elections in Nigeria, the worrisome and rising disruption of elections through resort to violence by politicians and their supporters; apprehension and prosecution of electoral offenders, improvements in INEC’s electoral processes to enable it further build its capacity and prepare for the next general elections in 2019, among others.
“A review of the 2015 general elections indicates the need for the National Assembly to take legislative steps to address identified challenges and plug the loopholes encountered in the course of the conduct of the elections.
“I note that some of the challenges may even require Constitutional amendments and, in that regard, we are working through the House Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review to make the necessary alterations to the Constitution that will fix the legal framework, “Dogara said.
He described as “an obvious legislative slip” Section 52(2) of the Electoral Act which states that, “the use of electronic voting machine for the time being is prohibited”.
On his part, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu said the commission is looking at the electoral guidelines see what needed to be change.
He lamented that most of the funds of the commission was spent on litigation and paying ad hoc staff who conduct the elections.
The INEC Chair further announced that on June 7, 2016 the commission will have a meeting with all political parties and stakeholders.
The Executive Director of the Policy and Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwokoh appealed that any reform intended to the Electoral Act should be done in 12 months.
He described the earlier amendment of the act as depicting partisanship.