Stakeholders on electoral matters have called for the unbundling of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into different agencies to ensure efficiency in the electoral processes.
They made the call at a Round Table and Public Presentation of Policy Papers on Citizens’ Rights and Impact of Insecurity on Elections organised by The Electoral Hub in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation (OSF) Africa in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matter, Mr Adebayo Balogun,said that INEC was saddled with a lot of responsibilities so tackling electoral violence was an added burden, thus the need to unbundle the commission.
Balogun said that there were some responsibilities that needed to be removed from INEC and allow other existing or newly created agencies to handle so that INEC would be more efficient.
He said that INEC’s responsibility on publicity to enlighten voters could also be moved to the National orientation agency (NOA).
“We are working on a lot of things but the one that actually relates to what we have here today is unbundling INEC to remove the aspect that has to do with Electoral offenses and violence and to bring it on a separate agency.
“So we are pushing up for a bill for the establishment of the electoral offenses commission and tribunal that will be able to focus on issues that have to do with violence, vote buying and any act of offenses that happens before, during after election.
“This is because we believe that INEC is overburdened with so much responsibilities. They should be able to concentrate on electoral matters and let other areas be done by some other agencies,” he said.
Balogun said that with the creation of an electoral offenses agency, it will be able to handle the areas that had to do with violence adding that the agency would encompass various security agencies working to see how they would fashion a way out to tackle the challenge.
“We need a professional body when we are talking about fighting security because dealing with insecurity is a professional thing and INEC should not be saddled with that.
“So we should bring professionals in that field to look at it and come up with solutions so that they can be more efficient,” he said.
Balogun said that the quick fix against violence in Saturday’s election was for stakeholders to talk to their family members in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo and let peace reign.
A former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega ,said that addressing electoral violence was a collective work because it was obvious that Nigeria’s elections were bedeviled with insecurity caused by electoral violence.
Jega said that it was also worthy to note that insecurity and election violence was disruptive to the social and economic strength of the nation, so the aim was to eliminate it during elections .
“All efforts need to be focused in terms of what needs to be done in order to minimise drastically if not totally to eliminate violence in the conduct of our elections.
“We want all hands to be on deck and for us to continue to make progress from each election we conduct.We all should come out and ensure that this becomes a reality.
“We are hopeful that the National Assembly would take a look at all the submissions from all the papers presented and make reasonable recommendations for the electoral Act amendment,” he said.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, said the commission was ready to adhere to every law enacted to end electoral violence in the nation.
Yakubu, represented by Prof. Mohammed Kuna, his Special Adviser, said INEC had been innovative since its creation.
“The commission is ready to welcome new innovations, INEC since inception, has always welcomed new discoveries, and initiatives just like the introduction of BVAS and PVCs,” he said.
The Convener of the round table, the Director, Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, said the project was initiated with funding from OSF, Africa, to support INEC and the electoral process on election security by the production of three well-researched policy papers on the impact of insecurity on elections.
Hamman-Obels said the aim was to safeguard both the institutional integrity of INEC and the integrity of the electoral process as well as ensure that elections were peaceful, and credible.
She said that the project sought to provide enhanced knowledge and understanding of the security issues and their multidimensional implications on elections.