Mr Mike Igini, a former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the commission is moving towards ending Election Tribunal business in the country.
Igini said this while delivering a keynote address at the inaugural lecture of Ariyo Dare-Atoye Memorial Election Management and Governance Dialogue Series organised by Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts (ASSPT) in Abuja.
Dare-Atoye, was a human rights crusader and the Executive Director of Adopt a Goal Initiative who mobilised for the passage and signing of the 2022 Electoral Act. He died of lungs Cancer on Oct. 27 in Abuja at the age of 41.
Igini said that from 2011 till date INEC had continue to make progress in improving the country electoral process.
He said that with the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act and new innovations of INEC, the commission was working towards eliminating unnecessary litigations and bragging of politician to take power through the court and not through the polling ballot.
“Section 137 is to the effect that unlike before at the tribunal a party will say I have 300 witnesses that we want to invite. No more witnesses to be called again because the INEC election is purely documentary.
“Every document you see in INEC has a code up to the polling unit. Every state has a code. They (parties) normally use that to be hostile, to frustrate the election petitioner.
“What INEC is doing going forward, is where we are going to have elections where you don’t need anyone to go to the tribunal. We must end going to tribunal in Nigeria.
“The votes of the people expressed at the polling units should be the place where elections are won and loss.
“Today, we spend more money at the tribunal than the normal election. We are going to end the business of election tribunals in this country and that is the direction INEC is going.
”We are going to end the business of election tribunals in this country and that is the direction INEC is going,” he said.
He that with the use of Bimodal Accreditation of Voters (BVAS) and elimination of incidence forms, people could no longer rig election by manipulating voter register or buying Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
He added that with INEC Results Viewing Portal election results could no longer altered before getting to final collation centre.
He added that as a result of provisions in the new Electoral Act political parties could no longer change names of candidates that emerge through primary elections.
Igini described 2022 Electoral Act as a law that had brought hope into the 2023 general elections and the future elections.
He said that every provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act was a product of the mischiefs that were done by politicians in the past.
He, however, said that irrespective of the improvements the election had brought to the electoral system of the country, the citizens needed to complement them by being vigilant.
“The good laws, innovations of INEC are not self-implemented, they are implemented by human being.
“The beauty of what we have in the Act and innovations is that the 2022 Electoral Act has taken power back to the Nigeria people.
Describing Dare-Atoye as a consistent, dependable man that contributed immensely to the passage and signing of the Electoral Act as well s deepening of the country democratic process, he urged citizens to appreciate his work by ensuring peaceful election and transition of power.
Earlier in his remarks, the Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, Dr Sam Amadi, said that the dialogue series to be held every quarter, was to continue the good work Dare-Atoye has done, to ensure that it bears forth fruits.
Amadi said while the Electoral Act had been passed into law, CSOs cannot go to sleep until credible elections and peaceful transition of power in the country is effected.
“Elections are not just about laws. We fought hard. The societies led by the likes of Dare-Atoye, the INEC, the Legislature and President Muhammadu Buhari all played key role to get the Electoral Act sign.
“The level now is in operationalising the Electoral Act. The level now is on the wiliness of the actors that the law has authorised to act, their willing to act and competence to know how to act.”
He said that the dialogue would discuss on how to ensure that the eligible voters are not disenfranchised and ineligible voters did not vote as well recommend solutions to some of the challenges confronting Nigeria’s elections.
He said that the school did not care about who win, but ensure that winners emerge through free fair and credible elections.