4 December 2012

Nigeria: Constitution Review - INEC Seeks Powers to Disqualify Candidates

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INEC is Nigeria's election commission.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is seeking powers to disqualify candidates who do not satisfy the requirement for the position they are seeking.

This is contained in its proposal for amendment of the 1999 Constitution and consequential amendment to the Electoral Act.

In its submission presented to the chairman, Senate ad hoc committee on the review of the constitution, INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega stated: "With such decisions as Atiku Abubakar v INEC and the proviso to Section 31 of the amended Electoral Act, the commission has no right to prevent even an obviously unqualified or disqualified person from being on the ballot."

He said by the provision of that section, INEC cannot prevent an underaged or foreign citizen from contesting election in Nigeria even when it is obvious from the documents submitted or even a person who admits that he presented a forged certificate to the commission if it seeks to disqualify such a person.

"The commission must go to court; it should be empowered to do so (subject, of course) to judicial review, if there is a prima facie case shown from the documentation that the candidate is unqualified.

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