NEW ELECTION REGULATIONS: ASSEMBLY SLAMS ELECTORAL COMMISSION
At the Hall Assembly Emergency Meeting which held at Famewo Common Room (FCR) on Monday 2nd May, 2022, the ABH Assembly firmly disapproved of the recent moves made by the Electoral Commission to include new screening measures and new restrictions as regards buying of electoral forms during the period of the extended electioneering process. This was said to be a violation of the constitution and a disregard for the Hall Assembly.
Recall that at the emergency meeting which took place on Wednesday, 27th April, 2022, two of the aspirants for the office of the Hall Chairperson were given the options of either stepping down from the electoral process or going ahead to run with the probable consequence of facing the Students’ Disciplinary Committee (SDC). A one-week extension was also given to the electioneering process— for the offices of the Hall Chairperson, Social and Buttery Minister, Information Minister and Floor Representatives of floors which had not been represented.
Consequently, the Electoral Commission released a document on Sunday, 1st May, 2022, officially reopening the electioneering process and giving a new set of requirements for qualifying the new set of candidates who would be running for the aforementioned offices (Note: A different standard was used for aspirants of other offices who were earlier screened). Some of these new regulations include that candidates who score lower than 50%, in the screening exercise to be held, in at least two of the following categories: Knowledge of the Constitution, Knowledge of Office, Plans and Means of Achieving Plans would be disqualified; and that candidates who had indicated interest in contesting for a particular office at the polls from the start of the process but withdrew, would not be allowed to apply for the same office within the same electoral year; this denied a Brownite, Mr. David Salami, who attempted to come up for the office of the Hall Chairperson after the reopening of the electioneering process, the opportunity to run.
Following these unprecedented developments, the Hall Assembly called for an emergency meeting. At the meeting, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Oluwaseun Azeez, was made to give explanations as regards the recent developments. He stated that he identified the indiscriminate backing out of the electoral process by aspirants as a problem which had to be regulated. He said that this “problem” had not been regulated in previous years by past Electoral Committees.
He further stated that the Electoral Commission in a bid to proffer solutions to the “problem”, searched the ABH Constitution thoroughly but could not find a place where such “problem” was clearly addressed; however, it found that the constitution had given the Electoral Commission the power to make regulations as it sees fit. Hence the decision to prevent candidates who had earlier withdrawn from the process from applying for the same office for which they were initially running. He also denied claims made by Brownites that the decision of the Electoral Commission was influenced by the Hall Warden and the Commission’s bias against Mr. David Salami. He refuted claims that the Electoral Commission influenced the stepping down of one of the aspirants for one of the offices. He explained that the commission only reached out to him to ask him if he was sure he was willing to take the risk of facing the SDC, which eventually led to the aspirant voluntarily withdrawing from the process and not that he was coaxed into it.
The honourables which spoke in response to Mr. Azeez unanimously maintained that the Electoral Commission’s decisions were a clear violation of the constitution and a disregard for the Hall Assembly. The points of emphasis by the honourables were that:
1. All matters must be decided by the constitution; if not clearly addressed, the House decides and not the Electoral Commission.
2. The Electoral Commission was set up by the Assembly and if any decision is to be made at all by the Commission, it must be ratified by the house. Every law that binds Brownites has to be approved by the House.
3. Laws should not be made to act in retrospect. Therefore, Mr. Salami should not have been prevented from getting the form for the office he had intentions of vying for, as he had withdrawn from the process before the law was made.
4. A new regulation should not be made in the middle of an electoral process. This was just an extension of a pre-existing process, not a new process. Hence, new regulations are not valid. If any amendment is to be made to the existing regulations, it should be in the next elections.
5. The Electoral Commission is not supposed to decide on who runs or who does not (just as Mr. Fagbohun was disqualified), apart from clearly stated prerequisites from the constitution. The Commission is only meant to screen, score and allow Brownites to decide with their votes.
6. The Electoral Commission should not reach out to any candidate. It is not to be a friend of any aspirant. It is to maintain neutrality.
7. The Electoral Commission should not have set an election date without the approval of the Assembly. This was said to be a disregard for the Hall Assembly.
The Assembly decided that the new set of regulations would be withdrawn. This means Mr Salami who was previously not allowed to purchase the electoral form would now be able to get it. The Electoral Commission would also write an open letter of apology to Brownites. The Electoral Commission was also asked to get back to the House as to whether its members would like to continue as a commission. This would determine the next action of the Assembly on other matters as regards the ABH Elections, like decisions on the date for the elections.