Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the federal government to create an Electoral Offences Commission (EOC) which would have powers to arrest, investigate, and prosecute electoral offenders.
Speaking yesterday this during an interview on THISDAY sister broadcast station, Arise News Channel, INEC Director, Voter Education and Publicity Department, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said one of the challenges affecting the commission was its inability to prosecute electoral offenders because it has no powers to do so.
He said while INEC focuses on conducting credible, free and fair elections, government could take up the responsibility of ensuring erring Nigerians were brought to book, as this could help bring sanity to the system.
“One of the challenges we also have is that eye witnesses do not like to go to court to testify. Judges are usually not there when the crimes are committed during elections. They can only make judgments based on available information.
“Our officials are on the frontline during these election irregularities. Some of our staff and ad hoc staff have been kidnapped or killed at different times. So, we are even, more concerned that there is a justice system to address the situation, more than anyone else,” he said.
Osaze-Uzzi added that security was the responsibility of security agencies, and not INEC, noting that in situations where there’s breakdown of security systems, INEC would not be able to do its work.
“And we know bad politicians are the architects of security breakdowns during elections. Rather than wait for the people to decide who leads them, they go ahead to subvert the will of the people by causing violence. The police and the ministry of justice have the responsibility to prosecute them, not INEC. We have no power to arrest or investigate,” he added.
On the recent Supreme Court judgment in Imo State, he said the apex court departed from a number of its previous decisions.
“If a case of irregularities are brought to the court in polling units, it usually would call polling agents. On this case, the court didn’t do that. On our part, we said we had genuine results which were declared, because results are just a product of a process. Where there were violence and disruption, results were not accepted. The full process of accepting results involves accreditation, voting, compilation and announcement of results. This wasn’t done in places where we rejected results. But in Supreme Court’s wisdom, it made its judgment,” he added.