Tinubu, INEC should lead electoral reforms, Laolu Akande charges

Laolu Akande featuring on Channels TV's public affairs programme on Tuesday, September 12, 2023

By Oluwafemi Popoola

A former presidential media aide, Laolu Akande, has called on President Bola Tinubu and the electoral body to champion the campaign for electoral reforms in the country.

Akande said the double and contradictory positions of INEC before and after the February 2023 election exercise regarding the transmission of results into the IRev portal have made it necessary for the President and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to lead the campaign for reforms in the electoral process.

The former media aide noted that despite INEC making the calls ahead of the February elections, it failed to stand on its assurance to upload polling unit results on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV).

Speaking on Channel Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, the former editor and award-winning journalist, who was the spokesperson of the former Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, insisted that INEC has a long way to go in rebuilding the trust of Nigerians, saying the body ought to be at the centre of pushing for reforms in the body.

He said, “The President at the end of the day ought to come out just as former President Shehu Yar’Adua did, who said that look, I understand we have to fix the electoral process and I think a lot of what we have to do at the end of the day is to come back and look at the electoral reforms what else can we do? There are quite a lot of things.”

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Though giving credence to judicial submission by judges in their respective courts, Akande added, “I think we also have to talk about, in democracy, the rule of law is imperative and while we can discuss justices, judgement and everything, look, when the court rules, we have to comply, so, I think ultimately, what we need to have is, maybe we are not there yet, is a further discussion on the electoral reforms and I will expect the President or whoever, however, this ends to come back and say look, we have to look at the electoral laws again and what else can we do? And we need to be refining those laws.”

“I mean the very idea of electoral reforms we need to keep at it, at every experience so we’ve seen in this election that we were promised that we will have the results on the IREV, but INEC can’t be mandated because they said the law didn’t say so even though INEC said so.

“INEC has been able to explain to the justices that we are not compelled by law. INEC itself has a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust and even ought to be at the forefront of pushing for the reforms,” Akande contended.

Speaking further on the judgment delivered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), last Wednesday, Akande maintained that the lawyers of the petitioners would still need to convince the people of the strength of their argument, wondering why they’ve since maintained silence against weighty indictment from the court that they could not substantiate their defence even as senior lawyers.

According to Akande, “The lawyers of the petitioners I think they still have a bit of explanations in the court of public opinions to give a kind of response to the judgement. I mean this is a serious thing, this is a presidential election, and the stakes are so high. How is it that the justices said they brought hearsay testimonies, these are serious people. The justices said that in an open court to the hearing of all Nigerians on live television for 12 hours and they have not responded.”

“I know they are preparing for the Supreme Court which is what they should do but in terms of building confidence with the people and letting people know what is going on, they need to respond to that. The justices gave an example of some of the evidence videos that were not tagged, they didn’t say where it happened, or what date, and listening to that, one was just wondering how possible. These are very serious lawyers,” Akande charged.