ELECTORAL LAWS AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL OF 2010 ELECTORAL ACT ON 2011 AND 2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS
Towards the end of 1990, international dynamics, pressures and persuasion combined to move Nigeria towards the embrace of a political system based on the global principles of democracy. The legal framework for this foundation was provided for by Decree No. 24 of May, 1999 which was a prelude to the promulgation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This inter- alia provides for the transition to civil rule through the conduct of elections by Independent Electoral Commission to the offices of President and the Vice-President, Governors and Deputy-Governors, Chairmen and Vice Chairmen, the National Assembly, the Houses of Assembly and the Local government councils. That attempt was initiated in 1999 and was again repeated in April 2003; April 2007; April 2011and in February 2015. This democratic position is further consolidated by the provisions of the said Constitution which provides in Section 1 (2) that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Furthermore, Chapter 2 of the same Constitution under section 14(2) (a) and (c) and section 15 (3) (d) strengthen the aforementioned democratic position as it provides that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through the Constitution derives all its powers and authority and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Stemming from the constitution the Electoral Act was promulgated. The 2006 Electoral Act provided the platform for the rules for the conduct of the 2007 election in Nigeria. It did not provide the free and fair election as desired. This led to several amendments leading to the promulgation of the 2010 Electoral Act which provided the ground rules for the conduct of the 2011 and 2015 General Elections in Nigeria. The thesis appraises the 2010 Electoral Act on the 2011 and 2015 General Elections. It focuses on issues relating to the Elections management by INEC, electoral fraud/ offences ad provided in the Act and the desirability to enfranchise Nigerian Diaspora population. The thesis submits that the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) did not provide the desired platform for free, fair and credible elections in 2011 and 2015 General Elections in Nigeria. Even as great improvements had been recorded compared to previous Elections. The thesis however submits that amendments to some provisions of both the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), are necessary to strengthen the Electoral system to give Nigerians free, fair and credible election in 2019 and beyond.