How to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral system, by Ugwuanyi, Nnamani, others
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Ngozi Emehelu among others yesterday advocated ways of strengthening the electoral system and deepening our democratic process.
They spoke at the Southeast zonal public hearing on electoral reforms in Enugu. Nnamani, who is the chairman of the Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee, said that his committee was determined to strengthen the country’s electoral system, assuring that the ongoing reform will discourage swearing-in of office holders with cases at the election tribunals.
He said the measures would discourage attempts by politicians to win at all costs. Governor Ugwuanyi however blamed the dwindling Nigeria’s democratic experiment on inability to conduct free and fair elections over the years, explaining that it had become imperative to put in place a robust electoral act that would engender peace and stability in the polity.
Nnamani told the gathering at the Nike Lake hotel venue that politicians were in the habit of deploying unwholesome means to be declared winners following which they would dare their opponents to go to the tribunal.
“We want to come up with a new system whereby no one can be sworn into office if they have election petitions hanging on their necks. Politicians are fond of fighting to win and saying ‘let us go to court,” he said.
In her submission, the Enugu State Chief Judge, Ngozi Emehelu, advocated for the extension of the 180 days statutory period within which election petitions are adjudicated, stressing that said the stipulated time was inadequate for petitioners to prove their cases.
She said that petitioners appeared to have uphill tasks proving their cases because of limited time, adding that some areas of the Electoral Act needed to be tinkered to make more time for adjudication.
“The Electoral Act gives 180 statutory days within which to conclude petitions but there are certain things that need to be put in place even before adjudication starts.’’