CROSS RIVER STATE 2022 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION: THE POSITION OF THE 2022 ELECTORAL ACT.
The Electoral Act 2022 is a laudable effort to keep the Nigerian electoral process from Federal to Local Government up to standard to the yearning of Nigerians for a transparent electoral process.
More so, as Cross River State approaches the 2023 local government general elections. It is only hoped that the provisions of this Act are judiciously implemented to enable Crossiverians enjoy the exercise of their political franchise in the 2023 local government election.
THE POSITION OF 2022 ELECTORAL ACT IN THE FORTHCOMING LOCAL ELECTION.
The 2022 Electoral Act is the only law in force to regulates the Federal and Local Government Elections now in Nigeria.
For LG election see Paragraph 11, Part 2, 2nd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, sect. 3(6) of the Constitution and sect. 150(1), sect 152. paragraph 1, 23 and 29 of the Electoral Act,2022.
The Law now is that every LG election is to be conducted the same way and using the same procedures used for the conduct of election to Area Councils in Federal Capital Territory. Read provisions of sect 151(1-4) of Electoral Act carefully👇
Section 151 (1-4)
(1) “In furtherance of the provision of Paragraph 11 of Part II of the Second Schedule to the Constitution, the procedure regulating elections conducted by the Commission to Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory under this Act SHALL be the same and apply with EQUAL FORCE as the PROCEDURE REGULATING elections conducted to Local Government Areas by ANY STATE COMMISSION.” and CROSIEC is not exempted.
(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), a State Commission shall be deemed to have and exercise the powers of the Commission in respect of the procedure regulating elections to Area Councils under this Act.
(3) ANY ELECTION to a Local Government Area that is CONDUCTED by a STATE COMMISSION in VIOLATION of subsection (1) SHALL be INVALID.
For clarity, the word SHALL in any legislation means mandatory hence you can’t do otherwise.
(4) Any official of a State Commission who contravenes the provision of subsection (1) commits an offence and SHALL be subject to prosecution as if he were an official of the Commission who committed the same offence under this Act.
INTERPRETATION OF AREA COUNCIL
152. The Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 is repealed.
153. In this Act —
“Area Council” means Area Councils recognised and existing by virtue of section 3(6) of the Constitution and set out in Part 11 of the First Schedule… that is 774 LGAs and LGAs in Federal Capital Territory.
On the foregoing, it means every State House of Assembly must immediately amend the State Electoral law to be in accordance and not in conflict with Part V1 (sect 98-113) of the 2022 Electoral Act which provides for PROCEDURE FOR ELECTION TO AREA COUNCILS. See paragraph 11 and 12 of Part 11, 2nd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN.
However, whether or not our State House of Assembly embark on this simple job, is immaterial because if any law is inconsistent with the provision of the Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.
Same thing applicable to State and National law. See Supreme Court judgment on OSIEC V ACTION CONGRESS OF NIGERIA.
Sequel to the above, with the Electoral Act in force, the sham called 2004 CROSIEC LAW can not raise it ugly head for use in the conduct of the forthcoming Local Government election.
If CROSIEC dare use it against the Electoral Act, it will be a waste of our tax payers money because it is sacrosanct that the election shall be set aside by the Court. See Paragraph 11 and 12, Part 2, Second Schedule of the Constitution 👇
11. “The National Assembly may make laws for the federation with respect to the registration of voters and PROCEDURE REGULATING ELECTIONS TO A LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL”
12. “Nothing in paragraph 11👆shall preclude a House of Assembly from making laws with respect to election to a local government council in addition to but not INCONSISTENT with ANY made by the National Assembly.”
This is where the State House of Assembly has a job to do, however, they can only add but such addition must not be INCONSISTENT with ANY provision made by the National Assembly else it is liable to be set aside by the Court as already stated above.
From the above position of the law, the State Electoral law that provides for MANUAL ACCREDITATION against the current introduction of BVAS by ELECTORAL ACT is now obsolete and can not be in force. It is either House of Assembly make sure the current CROSIEC law is repeal to conform with the 2022 Electoral Act or CROSIEC use the Electoral Act for the conduct of the forthcoming Local Government election or consider it an exercise in futility.
Both INEC and State Commission (CROSIEC) officials are bound to end in jail, if they fail to comply with it provisions strictly.
On this note, CROSIEC should take note that the election must be conducted in line with the following new innovations:
(a.) No manual accreditation.
(b.) No use of incident forms.
(c.) All accreditation must be electronic.
(d.) Accreditation is Bimodal meaning facial recognition and finger printing. Meaning, CROSIEC must conduct the election with the use of BVAS.
(e.) All results must be uploaded to CROSIEC official website at the polling units (I doubt if there is any) before taking it to ward, constituency or LGA collation centers.
(f.) If the number of votes cast is more than the accredited voters the polling unit result shall be cancelled.
(g.) No more massive thump printing and stuffing of ballot boxes. If you like equip ur thugs to steal ballot box on that day, you are just wasting your time and resources. You cannot change the result.
(h). No more writing of chairmanship or councilorship names by the Governor, Chief of Staff to the State Party or CROSIEC chairman for announcement as the party flag bearers and elected chairmen or councilors respectively, now It must be done in line with section 84 (1-14) and Part V1(98-113) of the 2022 Electoral Act.
The people’s votes must count, not only at the Federal level but also at Local Government level.
On this note, If CROSIEC are not ready to comply or use the Electoral Act for the conduct of the said election, the State government is hereby advised not to waste our tax payers money for an exercise that is void abinitio. This is because it will definitely be rendered INVALID, if challenged in Court. See Sect. 151 (3)
Also, whether CROSIEC Officials believes it or not, they will be sent to prison with either an option of heavy fine or both, if they decide to go contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act. See sect 151(4) of the 2022 Electoral Act.
This is why good number of Human Right lawyers are on ground to make sure sanity is witness in the forth coming LG elections in Cross River State in order to put an end to mediocre, opportunists or individuals who won’t dare to raise their hands and talk in village council meetings nor wins family election but will use shortcut and imposition method from above to head us as LG Chaimen and Councilors.
To this end, with the new Electoral Act in force, our votes in the local government election will definitely count, credible and competent Nigerians are expected to emerge in the exercise to lead us.
A stitch in time, saves nine!
Ankot A. Cobham Esq.