By Yusuf Alli, Abuja
Courts are to be barred from declaring winners of elections if the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Electoral Act Amendment scale through.
In the proposal, courts will only be able to order a fresh election if it finds an election to be flawed.
Tribunals will still be expected to hear and dispose of an election petition within 180 days.
The court of Appeal will also, as it subsists, have 90 days to decide on election matters.
Sources close to the panel said the members have already voted and agreed on this proposals.
In another proposal, political parties will be mandated to conduct primaries not later than six months to the election. This is to give courts ample time to dispose of pre-election matters.
Pre-election matters are no longer be allowed to be hear after elections.
The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) it was learnt, has reversed itself on the controversial Section 50(2)of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill to allow for Electronic Voting and Electronic Transmission of Results.
This follows the clamour by Nigerians including governors, political parties and civil society groups, and others for electronic transmission of results.
The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to table its recommendations before the Senate plenary for consideration this week.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said the Senate Committee had amended the Electoral Act 2010 to protect the sanctity of the ballot.
The source said: “Contrary to insinuations, most of our recommendations have taken cognisance of the wishes of Nigerians. We believe that in any democracy, the people’s will must prevail.
“One of our major decisions is to amend the Electoral Act to bar any tribunal or court from declaring any candidate as the winner of a flawed or disputed poll outside INEC that is empowered to do so.
“ We made a lot of reforms in sections 133 to 136 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to put a stop to judicial ambush where any candidate can rush to either the tribunal or a court for victory. No more emergency or under-the-table judgment to win any poll.
“ Instead of declaring a candidate as winner of a substantially flawed election, the tribunal or court can only order INEC to conduct a fresh poll in the affected constituency, district or state.
“ We want the will of the people to prevail. Whatever is decided by the people through a free and fair poll will be the minimum benchmark.”
On pre-election matters, the source said the Senate Committee has found a solution to it by making it mandatory for all political parties to conduct their primaries about six months to the general election.
“ All pre-election matters will now be heard and concluded before the general election. So, those who are contesting will be certified as eligible.
“ The six-month window will save INEC and candidates of legal hurdles and conflicting judgments on the right and actual choices of parties.”
The source said the controversy over Section 50(2) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill had been resolved.
The source said the Senate Committee approved Electronic Voting and Electronic Transmission of Results.
“ As a matter of fact, we took into consideration the massive public opinions on E-Voting and Electronic Transmission of Results. We have reversed our previous decisions. We now have clauses for E-Voting and Electronic Transmission of Results.
“ The report of the committee has been re-written to reflect what Nigerians have demanded from us. “
Regarding campaign funds, the Senate Committee said it has bowed to pressure to reduce the humongous increase.
The committee has left fixing of campaign funds’ limits to the Senate Plenary.
In Section 88 of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill the campaign cash is as follows: Governorship (From N200m to N 5billion); Senatorial candidate (From N40m to N1.5billion); House of Representatives candidate (From N30m to N500million); and House of Assembly candidate (From N10million to N50million).