INEC Jails 42 Persons for Election  Rigging

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32 new parties apply for registration
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has successfully prosecuted and convicted 42 persons for various election offences.
The commission also said it had so far received 32 fresh applications from various associations for registration as political parties.
The commission which said  the applications were being processed, also stated that more applications were being expected

A statement issued by the commission, quoted the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, as saying during the second quarterly consultative meeting with the chairmen and secretaries of registered Political Parties, held yesterday at the commission’s headquarters, that despite severe constraints on the commission, its legal team and the police had successfully secured the conviction of 42 suspects.
According to him: “This  is the highest number of convictions in a single case ever achieved by the commission.”

On the issue of the recent revelations of alleged involvement of INEC staff in the subversion of 2015 general election through cash inducement, the INEC boss said: “INEC will also take further administrative action against staff found culpable in this dastardly conduct.
“We will not hesitate to iindict staff where prima facie cases have been established against them by EFCC and immediately terminate the appointments of those indicted.”

Yakubu assured political parties that the commission remaimed committed to the opening of the democratic space in line with the law and guidelines.
He explained that the meeting was a forum for the commission to brief party leaders on developments in the management of the democratic system.

On the outstanding rerun elections, the INEC Chairman explained that out of 80 courts ordered rerun elections, the commission had successfully conducted 49 and has 31 elections pending as well as one by-lection. They are: one election in Anambra, four in Imo, one by-election in Kano, three in Kogi, one in Plateau and 22  in Rivers.

He maintained that except for Anambra and Plateau rerun elections which are subjudice, the commission had started the process of consultation leading to the completion of the outstanding elections.
Yakubu welcomed suggestions and inputs from the political parties on areas of constitutional and legal amendments.

He said: “We welcome suggestions by political parties on areas of amendment you consider important for inclusion in the comprehensive proposal we intend to submit to the National Assembly.”
THISDAY, however gathered from sources at the meeting that there was a lot of heated argument between the officials of the political parties and INEC officials over complaints of poor showings  by the commission in recent polls.

Meanwhile,  Yakubu decried the low turnout of voters in elections conducted by the commission in the aftermath of the 2015 general election.
He urged political parties to intensify voter mobilisation ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
The INEC Chairman urged political parties to intensify  voter mobilisation effort in order to galvanise the electorate to the polling units.
He expressed INEC’s desire to see greater participation of the marginalised and under-represented groups in the electoral process.

“Political parties have the biggest role to play in this regard. As we all know, political parties offer the only platform for contest to public office under our Constitution. women, youths and people with disabilities are noticeable more by their under-representation in elective offices”.

On deployment of ICT in the electoral process, the INEC boss promised that all avenues necessary were being explored to address the challenges arising from the functionality of the Smart Card Reader.
He further said the commission had designed a portal from which all registered voters could confirm and verify their registration online ahead of elections, adding that voters would also be able to transfer their registration from one point to another online.