Following the completion of the 2023 general election, as well as the just concluded off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States, the House of Representatives has resolved to amend the 2022 Electoral Act.
However, the Green Chamber was silent on whether it would also amend the law to mandate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit or upload results from the polling units on INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
Presently, Section 60 of the Electoral Act states that, “the presiding officer shall, after counting the votes at the polling unit, enter the votes scored by each candidate in a form to be prescribed by the commission as the case may be.”
More so, Section 60(5) of the Act states that “the presiding officer shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the commission.”
However, in the Legislative Agenda launched Tuesday by the Speaker of the House, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, the Green Chamber has proposed some amendments it intends to make to the Electoral Act 2022.
The Green Chamber, in its legislative agenda, noted that the 2023 general election elicited the most interest in recent times, however, it suffered setbacks regarding the implementation of recent constitutional amendments and the new Electoral Act.
The House assured that it would carefully examine complaints and observations made by stakeholders arising from the conduct of the 2023 general election.
It noted that specific actions to be taken by the House were: “Amend the Electoral Act 2022 to remedy some of the gaps observed, including vague and contradicting provisions.
“Pass an independent legislation (the Political Parties Bill) to regulate the registration, financing and functioning of political parties in Nigeria and, by so doing, allow INEC to focus on the conduct of elections.
“Set up a mechanism for periodic reviews of electoral laws to ensure they remain relevant and in tune with global best practices. Amend the Electoral Act 2022 to allow diaspora voting by government officials around the world.”
The House added that it would also ensure the passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission Bill to confer powers of the Commission to prosecute electoral offences.
It is also proposing amendments to the Constitution on issues related to elections in Nigeria to address some shortcomings including; “Appointment of Chairman and National Commissioners of INEC.
“Creation of an Electoral Offences Commission as an independent body; and Relevance or otherwise of Resident Electoral Commissioners of INEC in the States.”
Also, as part of the legislative agenda for the 10th House, the Green Chamber promised to introduce stricter penalties for misappropriation, misallocation, or any form of financial malpractice within the security sector.
The 10th House said it would take legislative measures to support the government’s drive to end insecurity.
It added that the House would put adequate and proactive legislation and policy options in place for oversight to curb corruption in the sector and also end insecurity.
It noted that the House would enact legislation that mandates a more detailed and itemised budgetary disclosure for security agencies. It stressed that while certain specifics might be kept confidential for national security reasons, a general breakdown should be accessible to the public.
It added: “Mandate regular independent audits of security sector expenditures. Create or empower an independent body with the necessary clearances to perform these audits.
“Strengthen parliamentary oversight over security sector spending. Committees responsible for defence, internal security, and intelligence should have powers to scrutinise and review the full details of budgetary allocations and expenditures.”
The House assured that it would pass the whistleblower protection law to encourage individuals within security agencies or related bodies to report financial malpractices without fear of retaliation.
It said the legislature would be put in place standard and make the procurement processes for security equipment and services transparent to reduce the chances of inflated contracts or purchases that do not offer value for money.
The House said it would also encourage competitive bidding and open tenders for major security-related procurements.
It added: “Legislate for the establishment of a Security Sector Reform Commission to oversee reforms within the security sector, including financial transparency and accountability.
“Introduce stricter penalties for misappropriation, misallocation, or any form of financial malpractice within the security sector.
“Empower anti-corruption agencies with more autonomy and resources to investigate and prosecute financial misconduct within the security sector.”
The House also promised to review the current system of policing in Nigeria, while also strengthening the framework for ‘community policing’ to decentralise the police structure and allow zonal commands to take prompt action on police issues.
The House vowed to open up national discussion on the merits of State Police, and aggregate citizen’s views and perspectives.
It further assured Nigerians that it would adopt legislative measures to reform the Nigerian Police Force and position them as the primary agency responsible for internal security.
In addition, the House said it would ensure full implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary at all levels.
In addition, it said it would provide adequate funding for legal aid services to improve access to justice for all citizens, particularly marginalised groups and those with limited resources.
On other aspects of Constitutional Alteration, the House stressed that it would alter the Constitution to delist the Land Use Act and National Youth Service Act, to strip them of their constitutional status to enable the National Assembly effect necessary amendments to align them with the prevailing situation in the country.