Senior Legal Programme Officer, Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), Mr Collins Okeke, yesterday, said the 2016 budget would meet the aspirations of Nigerians across all walks of life, if properly implemented.Okeke, who spoke at a media briefing in Lagos, on the topic, “Judicial Application of 2015 Election Laws in Nigeria,” pointed out that the 2016 budget was the most ambitious, following a reduction of over N17 billion.“This is actually the first time Nigeria is having that size reduced from its budget. The infrastructural projects listed in the budget are also very ambitious. The problem we have been having is not passing the budget but implementing it. I am hoping that at the end of May 2017, government should be able to say that at least 60 per cent of the budget has been implemented,” he said.Speaking on the judicial application of 2015 election laws in Nigeria, Okeke explained that Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 134 of the Electoral Act needed to be amended to provide exceptions to the election petition timelines.
The HURILAWS Senior Legal Programme Officer noted that the Electoral Act needed to be amended to incorporate and recognize the use of card reader during accreditation of voters.According to him, card reader reports need to be recognized in the Electoral Act as part of admissible evidence in proof of electoral malpractices such as over-voting.“The Electoral Act, especially Section 137, needs to be amended to afford locus standi to the electorate to bring election petitions. However, tribunals may also be empowered to consider and summarily dismiss in chambers frivolous petitions and petitions on issues already being canvassed in another petition or which should be more appropriately canvassed by a party to the election,” he added.Okeke called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that card readers deployed for elections were pre-tested, of the highest quality and user friendly, including training its permanent and ad-hoc staff ahead of elections.