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The road from the Supreme Court to the next election


The Supreme Court judgments on gubernatorial cases have angered many as it has made many happy. Such is the nature of political issues. 

Those who are happy however have not given reasons related to the common good, but those who lost fear that the role played by the card reader should not be diminished in future elections and have said so in various ways.

I am looking at it from the half-full glass view.

The object of the Supreme Court verdict on card reader alone, at least with the reasons given in Ebonyi State case is that no probative value (conclusive proof) is attached to the reports generated by the card reader.

They are saying that whereas you are using the card reader to verify names on the voter register, the card reader report cannot stand on its own without corroboration of the proof on voter register.

Hence, where according to the judgments there is inconsistency between the reports of the card reader and that of the voter register, the latter should prevail because it enjoys backing of Act of Parliament while the other, though recognized is a regulation a step lower.

It is not the same as barring the use of the card reader. 

But since we know that it is easier to adjust, altar and forge the voter register after the fact of election it is not the same for the card reader. Hence the way to go is to optimize the strength of the combination by amendments.

Hence, as I see it, the National Assembly should do two things. First they should expressly embed the card reader use and generated report in the mainstream of the Electoral Act to place it on the same terms with other enforceable and enforced provisions in the context of legal hierarchy.

Second, the National Assembly should amend the procedure to enable agents of political parties at polling unit levels receive signed and stamped used voter register, complete with voter-turnout account, which needless to say, must correspond with that on the results sheets.

With a copy of the voter register as marked at the end of voting in custody of different political parties, the post-election document manipulation that has become a discernible feature of our electoral process, as gleaned from issues raised in many tribunals will suffer a checkmate or be retarded in the least.

When this is done; some of the clever things noticed in this election will be addressed on the civil side.

Prosecution on violence will deter that side of the ills. And this should be spearheaded by security agencies assigned the role in elections. Noticeable loopholes would also form the basis of further amendments at the Electoral Act and other relevant statutes.

These done, we are good to go on incremental progress.

Hope is not lost.

By Okelo Madukaife

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