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INEC will obey timely, legitimate amendment to Electoral Act – official

INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said it would obey any timely and legitimate amendment to Electoral Act.

A National Commissioner in the commission, Okechukwu Ibeanu, stated this in Abuja, at the backdrop of the proposed amendment to the Act by the House of Representatives with regard to order of 2019 general elections.

The lawmakers began the amendment process on Tuesday, barely two weeks after INEC released time-table for the elections.

In the proposal, the National Assembly election would hold first, followed by Governorship and House of Assembly, and Presidential election to be conducted last.

The amendment passed first reading on Tuesday after the House received the report of its Committee on Electoral Matters on the electoral process and need to amend the Electoral Act 2010.

In INEC’s time-table, presidential and national assembly elections were billed for February 19, 2019 and governorship and house of assembly, March 3, 2019.

Mr. Ibeanu, who spoke on the sideline of INEC’s Electoral Institute 14th Public Lecture, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the amendment by the lawmakers was still a proposal.

“It is still a proposal by the House of Representatives. I think it is still going to enjoy concurrence of both chambers of the National Assembly for harmonisation as well as inputs from states.

“As a law-abiding organisation, INEC works with the Electoral Act. If there is a legitimate amendment to the Act, INEC will have no option than to obey, but that must happen first.

“Like I said, the role of INEC is to conduct elections based on the law; if there is a legitimate amendment to the Electoral Act, INEC will obey,’’ he said.

On the timing of the amendment with regard to the elections, Mr. Ibeanu said that there was a six-month time frame for amendment of the Electoral Act.

“Practically, there is ECOWAS protocol discouraging amendment of Electoral Act before the election in less than six months to an election and we still have more than six months.’’

On report that the commission may approach the court over the proposed amendment, he said it was not necessary for now as the amendment process was yet to be completed.

“What are we approaching the court for? When we see the amendment and if it is necessary, we can approach the court then.

“Doing that now is like putting the cart before the horse,’’ he said.

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