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