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INEC Advocates Limited Role For Military At Elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has advocated limiting the role of the military during elections to “securing the distribution and delivery of electoral materials”.

While foreclosing the possibility of electronic and diaspora voting in the 2015 elections, the electoral body has also asked for the extension of the time for the conduct of run-off elections to offices of President and governors from seven to 21 days.

These positions came to light in a position paper presented by INEC on Tuesday at a public hearing on the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act by the House of Representatives committee on electoral matters.

Presenting INEC’s position paper, its chairman, Attahiru Jega, speaking on the deployment of the personnel of the armed forces in elections, said that the commission supported the amendment of Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act which inserts a new paragraph(b) that limits the role of the military to “securing the distribution and delivery of electoral materials”.

The new paragraph reads: “Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for the purposes of securing the vote, the Commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in the manner determined by the Commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies.

“Provided that the Commission shall request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purpose of securing the distribution and delivery of electoral materials.”

On the issue of electronic voting and balloting by Nigerians in the Diaspora, the INEC chairman said that they can only be possible after the 2015 general elections because there is no time to put the necessary logistics in place.

“It will be difficult for INEC to prepare adequately for the process. There is simply no time to do that…we (INEC) will not be able to do electronic voting in whatever form on or before the 2015 elections.” Jega stated.

He also opined that it was practically impossible to conduct run-off elections in seven days and urged for an amendment of the Electoral Act to extend the number of days to 21.

The INEC boss said the electoral body had identified 23 sections of the Electoral Act that need to be amended.

Some of the amendments sought by INEC include constitutional guarantee for the operational independence of the commission; selection of election dates to be made by the Commission in accordance with the Constitution, disqualification of persons convicted of electoral offences from contesting elections or holding of any positions in political parties, allowing voting by Nigerians in the Diaspora, the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission with powers to investigate and prosecute all branches of electoral laws in Nigeria.

Also making a presentation at the public hearing, the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, an association of all registered 25 political parties in the country called on the National Assembly to make cross-carpeting by politicians after winning elections on the platform of another party illegal.

The chairman of IPAC, Yunusa Tanko, who is also the national chairman of the National Conscience Party, NCP, said the decision was unanimously agreed after a meeting on political parties.