• Calls for case files, electoral offences tribunal
• Police: 58 high-profile arrests made, 39 charged to court
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday called for the immediate prosecution of electoral offenders, including members of the security agencies.
He made the call in Abuja during a meeting of Interest Agency Consultative Committee on Electoral Matters.
At the meeting, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, said during the last elections, 58 high-profile arrests were made, while 39 had been charged to court.
The INEC chairman told the meeting that “proven misconduct must be dealt with according to the law,” and that “this is one of the surest ways to address impunity and instill sanity in the electoral process.”
He also commended the security agencies that responded to allegations of electoral misconduct against their personnel, stating that “some security agencies also responded by investigating the allegations of misconduct against their own personnel. We shall once again share experience at this meeting and take bold steps to ensure that we all keep to our rules of engagement.”
He commended the police for arresting many suspected electoral offenders during the general election and asked that the police should avail the commission of the case files so that it could initiate their immediate prosecution.
The INEC chairman also reiterated the call for the establishment of an election offences tribunal to check rising cases of election offences.
Yakubu said: “I wish to renew the call for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Tribunal. We shall work with the National Assembly to ensure the passage of a private member bill sponsored in the Senate by the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, and in the House of Representatives by Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok.
“Their effort was reinforced by an Executive Bill submitted to the National Assembly arising from the report of the Ken Nnamani Committee on Electoral Reform. The truth is that democracy and credible elections will be deepened where electoral offenders are swiftly prosecuted.
“For instance, in the recent general election in South Africa held in May 2019, some electoral offenders were arrested and swiftly charged to court even before the election was concluded.”
On the forthcoming November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, Yakubu said: “Given the history of political violence, resulting in the governorship elections declared inconclusive in the two states in 2015, the commission is concerned about the safety of our personnel, properties and the sanctity of the electoral process.
“The politicians in Bayelsa and Kogi States must shed off the toga of political violence associated with elections in the two states. I am glad to note the peace efforts in Bayelsa State through a broad-based stakeholders’ summit on violence-free elections.
“I am also glad that some concerned leaders in Kogi State are considering a similar initiative. I want to assure all well-meaning leaders of Bayelsa and Kogi States that the commission will work with them to ensure peaceful and credible polls. I also wish to assure all voters in the two states that INEC will protect the integrity of the electoral process and ensure that the will of the people prevails. We will also work with the security agencies to ensure professionalism and neutrality in strict compliance with their rules of engagement.”
In his contribution at the meeting, the Inspector General of Police, represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Abdulmajid Ali, said during the last elections, 58 high profile arrests were made.
Of the figure, 25 arrests were made during the presidential and National Assembly elections, 17 during gubernatorial election and 14 other arrests were also made.
“Out of the 58 arrests, 39 have been conclusively investigated and concluded and charged to courts, while 19 are pending,” he added.
He commended other security agencies, particularly the military, for the cooperation given to the police and INEC during the last election.