The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has opposed the amendment of the constitution that sought to provide for the participation of independent candidates in election process.
Arguing against such stand at a public hearing organized by the Niger state House of Assembly on 15 amendment bills transmitted to it by the National Assembly yesterday in Minna, the INEC Head of legal, Nasara Haruna Auta who represented the commission averred that independent candidature would undermine the existence of political parties in the country.
“It was the opinion of INEC that our democracy was too young for independent candidate in election process”, Auta averred, even as the Commission’s position was opposed by other stakeholders with many arguing in favour of constitutional backing for independent candidates to contest election in the country.
They based their argument on the ground that constitutional provision for independent candidacy would check the excesses of political parties.
There was also a heated debate over the amendment of bill seeking to remove the word “force” from the Nigeria Police Force.
The O/C legal of the Niger police command, DSP Jude had led the argument against its removal, insisting that the police is a ‘Force’ and not civil when it comes to fighting sophisticated criminals.
However, his position had generated heated debate from those who believed that since the police deal mostly with the civilian population, it should not be accorded the status of a ‘Force’.
DSP Jude also opposed the constitutional provision recognizing the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps NSCDC on grounds that it is contrary to the constitutional provision that established the Nigeria Police Force.
This was however dismissed by the Public Relations Officer of NSCDC in Niger state, Ibrahim Yahaya who explained the differences in the duties of the police and Civil Defense, saying their roles were never at conflict.
Speaking while declaring the public hearing opened, the Speaker of Niger state House of Assembly, Honourable Ahmed Marafa explained that 15 proposed amendment bills were transmitted to the Assembly, adding that the Assembly can only agree or disagree with the bills at this stage.
He explained that the Assembly was the first in the country to subject the proposed amendment bills to public scrutiny and urged participants to make useful imputes that would drive the process.