Vanguard (Lagos)

2 June 2008

Nigeria: Oyegun Canvasses Bangladesh Election

Lagos — FIRST civilian governor of Edo State, Chief Joh Odigie-Oyegun, has canvassed the adoption of the Bangladesh arrangement where the government in power quits office at least three months before an election to reduce to the barest minimum the influence of incumbency on the electoral process.

Besides, he wants the Chief Justice of the Federation to be empowered by law in the appointment of an independent prosecutor whose job is to prosecute all electoral offences.

Such prosecution, he suggests, should be made mandatory with severe penalties imposed on conviction.

In a memorandum he presented to the Electoral Reform Committee in Benin weekend, Chief Odigie-Oyegun said that the composition of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and State Independent National Electoral Commission (SIEC) should be made up of representatives of the main political parties on equal basis.

"The chairman of the Commission should be selected from the list of three independent persons with extensive management that would be drawn up by the Chief Justice of the Federation. If after a specific period, say one month, the commissioners are unable to reach agreement, then the Chief Justice of the Federation will exercise the right to designate any one of the three as chairman."

On the voting system, the former governor supported the adoption of option A4 otherwise known as the open secret ballot system as violence would be drastically reduced in elections.

"The advantages of the open-secret ballot is that election takes place at the same time all over the nation at every voting precinct in which case the trucking of voters or thugs from one point to the other becomes near impossible in any significant sense."

"Arrangements to be made for accreditations to take place over one or two days prior to the actual date of voting so that those accredited do not exceed the number of registered voters."

On security, Chief Odigie-Oyegun canvassed the deployment of only one or two unarmed policemen to every voting point during the actual day of the elections.

All para-military agencies, customs, immigration, civil defence, prisons etc. should have absolutely no role to play during the entire election process, he said.

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