The Presidential Committee on Constitution and Electoral Reform has said reforms in the electoral system would ensure that winners of elections don’t assume office until petitions against them are determined.
This is coming at a time South East residents have canvassed drastic changes in the constitution and electoral system, saying it would help the country to achieve credible, free and fair elections in future.
Speaking in Enugu, during a public hearing, chairman of the presidential committee, Senator Ken Nnamani, said the ongoing reforms will discourage inauguration of candidates whose cases are before election tribunals.
The former Senate President said it was sad that prosecution of election cases had become costlier than campaigns. Nnamani explained that the committee would make sure future elections were credible, such that no court would upturn any of such elections, adding that this would discourage unnecessary litigation. And that the prevailing circumstances, where elections were won in courtrooms was discouraging.
In his welcome address, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State commended the Federal Government for creating an opportunity for the Nigerians to vent their views and thoughts on the most effective ways to entrench a credible, acceptable and violence/rancour-free electoral process in the country.
Ugwuanyi noted that though it is difficult to conduct perfect elections anywhere in the world, “yet the sheer volume of petitions and controversies that trail each exercise we have so far conducted underscores the need for incisive alterations and amendments to be made in our electoral process in order to eliminate the undesirable outcomes that we have continued to experience.
The governor, therefore, called for the overhaul or necessary amendments to the existing laws and processes to ensure greater credibility and fairness in elections at all levels, saying that the proposed reforms must also help to entrench the culture of respect for the will of the people as freely expressed through the ballot box.
Also speaking, the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice N. P. Emehelu, who stormed the venue of the public hearing with some judges, who had been involved in election petitions, said Nigeria’s democracy was in a flux just as the law that powers its legal process. She noted that the electoral law of the country has continued to be criticised due to the perceived and proved lapses in its provisions
The representative of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Edmund Egbo and his counterpart from the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT), Prof Jude Udenta, said already the two universities had set up committees for the reforms, promising that the institutions would send across their separate memorandum to the committee.
No fewer than 23 memoranda were received by the committee at the public hearing