A Nigerian civil society group, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), has expressed concern about a recent judgment by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on the 2023 presidential election.
The judgment has raised questions about the gains made with the passage of the Electoral Act 2022, particularly reforms that introduce technology in elections and require the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue guidelines for the elections and implement them.
The Situation Room, which is composed of over 70 civil society organizations, said it is worried that the judgment may have opened the door for INEC to discretionary powers in implementing the reforms.
“This is indeed worrying for our electoral system,” said Y.Z Ya’u, the convener of the Situation Room. “While some discretion may be necessary for flexibility in election administration, it is important that there are accountability mechanisms to prevent arbitrariness.”
The Situation Room also noted that public funds were appropriated by the National Assembly and invested in the technological innovations that were developed and publicized by INEC.
“It is important that these reforms are implemented in a transparent manner and in the public interest,” said Mimidoo Achakpa, a co-convener of the Situation Room.
The Situation Room said it will continue to monitor closely how litigations around the general elections evolve, especially at the Supreme Court level. It said it will also pursue further legislative advocacy that will require INEC to mandatorily implement reforms passed by Nigeria’s Legislature.