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Amend constitution first, Femi Falana warns 

Femi Falana, SAN, human rights attorney, has issued a warning that unless Nigeria amends its constitution, credible elections will not be possible.

He said this in a paper titled “Updating Nigeria’s Electoral Reforms,” which he presented last week in Lagos during the Joint Committee on Electoral Matters retreat with assistance from the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center.

The rights activist said: “Nigeria cannot conduct credible elections without amending the relevant provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act to provide for the appointment of INEC members by advertisement, deployment of technology for accreditation of voters and transmission of election results from polling units to the central server of INEC.

“Once the electoral process is fully technologies the proof of election petitions will be based on the BVAS reports and uploaded results.

“The onus of proof of conduct of credible elections should shift to INEC and winners of elections. The question of dumping election materials will not arise as they would be produced and certified by INEC.”

Besides, he insisted that “Democracy cannot be consolidated where the masses are asked to tighten their belts while elected public officers are paying themselves jumbo salaries and allowances.”

The paper reads in part:

“Since democracy is under threat due to mass poverty, the political system must address the welfare and security of the people.

”As a matter of urgency, progressive forces must compel the Federal Government to reverse the removal of fuel subsidy.”

”The 22-member Panel collated the views of the Nigerian people and made profound recommendations which were submitted to the federal government.

”The highlights of the Uwais Electoral Reform Panel include the procedure for transparent appointment and removal of chairman and members of INEC, unbundling of INEC, independent funding for INEC, proportional representation, independent candidates, fixing of dates of elections, composition of election tribunals, time for determination of election petitions, and shifting of onus of proof in election petitions.

”The Electoral Act 2022 has made adequate provisions for internal democracy in political parties.

But the parties are run like government parastatals. Hence, the President claims to be the national leader of the ruling party.”

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