The conduct of elections in any country is crucial because it gives the procedure that allows citizens to choose representatives who will hold positions of authority within it.
In any democratic system, it is crucial that elections be free and fair. An adequate legal framework has been recognized as a prerequisite for credible, free and fair elections. There has been a lot of challenges with the conduct of elections in Nigeria from 1923 to date.
The challenges include among other things irregularities that put the entire electoral process in doubt; problems with the legislative framework which puts constraints on the electoral process; the inability of various stakeholders to play their roles; lack of room by the electoral system for inclusiveness; lack of independence of electoral commissions; the long process of election dispute resolution; irresponsible behaviour by politicians; thuggery and violence; and monetization of politics. One of the ways that have been used to address these challenges is through the electoral Act.
The Electoral Act provides for the structure of INEC, its powers and guidelines for registering voters, procedures for the conduct of elections, the registration and regulation of political parties, electoral offences and the determination of election offences.
On return to civil rule in 1999, the first Electoral Act was passed in 2001. This was revised in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Indeed, there has always been an attempt after every election to amend the electoral Act to take care of deficiencies or mischief noticed during the elections.