.Brands electoral offence tribunal a misplaced priority
Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, canvassed for the setting up of Election Offences Tribunal in the country, Governor Ayodele Fayose has declared that the commission’s alleged engagement in partisan interest is responsible for the orgy of violence marring the conduct of polls in recent time.
Fayose urged the Yakubu to first purge the electoral commission under him of partisanship and election manipulations before seeking the establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunal, saying; “INEC under the present dispensation is the number one electoral offender and that electoral reform without INEC neutrality is a mirage.”
He said any Electoral Offences Tribunal established under this present dispensation would only be used against opposition parties as the Department of States Services (DSS), police, armed forces and other agencies of the federal government were used during the Bayelsa and Rivers States elections.
The Special Assistant on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka quoted the governor as saying that; “Even though establishment of Electoral Offences Tribunal is not entirely a bad idea, but INEC as presently constituted does not encourage free, fair and violence free election and it should worry Yakubu that INEC as at today, is being referred to as Inconclusive National Electoral Commission because of the commission’s partisanship.”
The governor, who described electoral violence as a product of electoral injustice, said even President Buhari himself admitted his failure to conduct any free, fair and credible election since hem assumed office.
He said: “During the Rivers State rerun elections that INEC has been
unable to conclude, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was missing on result sheets of over 230 polling units and up till now, all what INEC has been able to tell Nigerians was that the criminal omission of PDP in the result sheets was due to printers error. Was that not enough to cause violence?”
While blaming President Buhari for eroding INEC independence, Fayose said: “The day President Buhari interfered with the internal
administration of INEC by appointing Mrs Amina Zakari, a National Commissioner, as acting Chairperson of the commission, a title and position unknown to the constitution, INEC under the Buhari’s APC government lost its independence and its credibility was eroded.
“The reality that INEC itself must therefore face is that members of President Buhari’s party, APC have become so emboldened to unleash violence on Nigerians during elections because they know that the president won’t lift a finger provided his party members are the ones perpetrating evil.
“INEC must therefore seek to regain its lost independence and credibility before talking about punishing electoral offenders because
as it is now, INEC is the number one electoral offender and promoter of electoral violence.”