Nigeria: 91 Political Parties Seek Separate Agency for Party Registration

All the 91 political parties in Nigeria, under the umbrella of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), have called for the amendment of Nigeria's constitution, Electoral Act and the electoral legal frame work that will remove the task of registering political parties from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

They also want the federal government to set up a separate agency to register parties in the country.

The political parties further propose the appointment of the deputy chairman of INEC stating that it will ensure transparency in the electoral process.

IPAC chairman, Chief Peter Ameh gave the endorsement in a document suggesting some of the sections that need amendment in the electoral act.

The 17-point document submitted to the INEC chairman, a copy of which was obtained by LEADERSHIP Sunday, specifically demanded the alteration of section 153 of the 1999 constitution to remove INEC from the list of Federal Executive Bodies.

"Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to remove INEC from the list of Federal Executive Bodies. Sections 154 and 157 of the Constitution relating to the composition, appointment and removal of chairman and members of the board of INEC should be amended.

"The composition of INEC's board should be as follows: i. Chairman, who must be a person of unquestionable character and proven integrity;

A Deputy Chairman, who must be a person of unquestionable character and proven integrity. However, the chairman and deputy must not be of the same gender; iii. 12 persons of unquestionable character and proven integrity drawn from the six geopolitical zones which must include women."

They called for the advertisement of the positions, after which three persons should be shortlisted for each position and sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation of one for each position.

On the tenure of those to be appointed, IPAC said Sections 155 and 157 of the Constitution should be amended to provide that the chairman and members of the INEC Board may only be removed by the Senate on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) by two-thirds majority of the Senate which shall include at least 10 members of the minority parties in the Senate.

"Section 155 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to provide that the tenure of office of the Chairman and members of the Board of INEC shall be five years from the date of appointment, renewable only once. The process of renewal of the appointment of members of the Board of INEC shall be by the Senate on the recommendation of the NJC," it said.

On the state Electoral Commission, IPAC said section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) relating to the place of local governments as the third tier of government should be amended to specifically guarantee the existence, establishment, structure, composition, finance, functions and tenure of local governments under the Constitution.

"Section 153, 197 and The Third Schedule to the Constitution should be amended to provide for the following re-designation and re-ordering of States Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC): At the state level, the SIECs should be abolished and its structures incorporated within the structure of INEC to form a single election management body for the country. The state level secretariat of INEC should therefore consist of 37 directors of elections, one for each State and the FCT, appointed by INEC, trained and posted to states other than their states of origin. These directors should be career officers, and non-partisan persons of unquestionable character and proven integrity."

The same should be replicated at the local government and ward levels.

On the regulation of political parties, IPAC advocated the alteration of Section 222-229 of the Constitution to provide for the establishment of a Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission which shall be empowered to perform the following functions: Register political parties in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and sections 78-101 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended); Monitor the organisation and operation of the political parties, including their finances; Arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties; Monitor political campaigns and provide rules and regulations which shall govern such political party campaigns; Accredit domestic civil society organisations and international election observers/media, etc. It will also carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by the National Assembly.

"Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution should be further amended by the insertion of the following new item: 1. The Political Parties Registration and Regulatory Commission shall comprise the following members: a chairman and deputy chairman who must be of unquestionable character and proven integrity appointed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) subject to confirmation by 2/3 majority of members of the Senate, both of them shall not be of the same gender; and six persons of unquestionable character and proven integrity from each of the six geopolitical zones which must include women.

According to them, members of the Commission should be appointed by the NJC for a term of five years and may be re-appointed for a further term of five years only, subject to confirmation by two-thirds of the members of the Senate.

Any person holding office as a member of the Commission may only be removed from that office by the NJC supported by two thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

On date of elections, IPAC said sections 132 (2), 178 (2), 64(1) and 105(1) of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to appoint a single date for presidential, governorship, National and State Assembly elections which should be held at least six months before the expiration of the term of the current holders of the offices.

"The presidential, gubernatorial, National and State Assembly elections should take place in the first week of November of the election year. The elected chief executives should be sworn in May the following year, an interval of six months, to allow for the disposal of election petitions arising from the elections (excluding appeals)," the proposal added.

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