Elec­toral law: Se­nate seeks to move bur­den of proof to INEC

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san

A leg­is­la­tion seek­ing to shift the bur­den of proof in elec­tion lit­i­ga­tions onto the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC) passed sec­ond read­ing in the Se­nate yes­ter­day.

Spon­sored by Se­na­tor Hadi Sirika (APC, Katsina), the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is seek­ing to amend Sec­tion 25 (2a-c) of the Elec­toral Act 2010 by adding sub­sec­tion (2d) to pri­mar­ily com­pel the com­mis­sion to take re­spon­si­bil­ity of prov­ing any elec­toral fraud re­lated case filed against it by can­di­dates and po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Se­na­tor Sirika ar­gued that the process of prov­ing the reg­u­lar­ity or other­wise of the con­duct of an elec­tion is one that is highly bur­den­some and ought not to be placed or vested on the pe­ti­tioner who did not con­duct the elec­tion but only par­tic­i­pated in it.

He main­tained that the bur­den of first proof hav­ing been dis­charged by INEC, will them shift to the pe­ti­tioner who al­leged that the elec­tion was not prop­erly con­ducted be­cause, ac­cord­ing to him, if the bill scales through it will among other things shorten lit­i­ga­tion time, make INEC to live up to its re­spon­si­bil­ity and pro­mote trans­parency.

Sup­port­ing the bill, Se­na­tor Ab­dul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi) said the amend­ment be­ing sought was not in con­tra­ven­tion of the Ev­i­dence Act which he said is an “ar­chaic” leg­is­la­tion that has out­lived its rel­e­vance in 21st century Nigeria.

How­ever, Heineken Lokpo­biri (PDP, Bayelsa) de­scribed the bill as “un­mer­i­to­ri­ous” and with­out ba­sis be­cause it con­tra­dicted the Ev­i­dence Act.

For his part, Se­na­tor James Man­ager (PDP, Delta) said: “It is the law that if you as­sert, you should prove. It is the lit­i­gant that is drag­ging INEC to court that should prove that the com­mis­sion did not do its job well and not the other way round.”

The bill over­whelm­ingly passed sec­ond read­ing stage and was re­ferred to the com­mit­tees on INEC and con­sti­tu­tion re­view for fur­ther leg­isla­tive in­put.

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