The federal government has commenced the reform of the country’s electoral laws with the constitution of a constitutional and electoral reforms committee.
The 24-member committee would be chaired by former Senate president, Senator Ken Nnamani, while Dr. Mamman Lawal of Bayero University, Kano is the secretary.
Other members of the committee, which will be inaugurated tomorrow (Tuesday), include Dr. Muiz Banire, Dr. Clement Nwankwo, Chief A.C Ude and Mr. Tahir, Director, Legal Drafting, Federal Ministry of Justice, amongst others.
Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, special adviser to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who disclosed this in a statement, yesterday, said the “Committee is expected to Review Electoral environment, laws and experiences from recent elections conducted in Nigeria and make Recommendations to strengthen and achieve the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria.”
“The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, will on Tuesday October 4, 2016 inaugurate a Committee on Constitutional and Electoral Reform at the HAGF’s Conference Room, Abuja by 11am,” the statement read.
It would be recalled that in April this year, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had started consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly and the judiciary to identify the electoral laws that needed to be reformed.
“I have begun consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly and the judiciary to identify key laws and priority areas for reform. Our priority areas will be clearly outlined in our justice sector reform that we will propose to the National Assembly and align it with their agenda in order to achieve reform within the tenure of this administration,” Malami had told participants at the Nigerian Civil Society Situations Room’s Stakeholders Forum on Elections in Abuja.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, there have been several attempts at reviewing the electoral process. One of the most critical of such efforts was in 2007, when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, following the outcry that trailed the 2007 general elections, setup a committee led by former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais, to make recommendations for the reform of the electoral system.
The 22-member Uwais panel submitted its report on December 11, 2008. The committee recommended among others, the establishment of commissions to deal with electoral offences, constituency delimitation and political parties’ registration and regulation and that some of the power vested in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the State Independent Electoral commissions would be transferred to the new commissions.
The late former president however forwarded a modified version of the Uwais report to the legislature in 2009.
In March 2010, then acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, forwarded the full version of the Uwais report to the National Assembly for approval. Though some of the recommendations turned out controversial, some of them were adopted.
Another attempt at fixing the electoral system came in 2014, at the constitutional conference, under the leadership of former Chief Justice, Idris Kutigi. The report of that conference is yet to be implemented.