The Chairman National Electoral Commission INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, says 125 cases of electoral offences have been filed in various courts since the 2015 general election.
Professor Yakubu, disclosed this on Tuesday during a public hearing on a bill to establish an electoral offenses tribunal, organized by the House of Representatives committee on electoral matters.
He noted that out of this, sixty convictions have been secured so far, including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom state.
The INEC chairman, who expressed his support for the bill, remarked that the commission would like to see more successful prosecution of offenders, not just ballot box snatchers, falsifiers of election results and vote buyers at polling units but most importantly, their sponsors.
“We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery, including high-profile figures that seek to benefit from these violations, are arrested and prosecuted. We believe the work of the proposed Commission will help in this regard”, he notes
Prof Yakubu however, proposed that rather than over-burdened courts jurisdiction to try electoral offenders, the electoral tribunal should be established with exclusive jurisdiction to try electoral offenders.
Electoral crimes breed corruption
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, observed that electoral crimes lead to low quality, corrupt and violent political leadership.
He said election riggers and offenders take control of governments against democratic will of the electorates, with adverse effects on national cohesion, peace and security.
“Rigged elections throw up political schemes that are not conducive for businesses and the national economy. Electoral offences are self-inflicted injuries to be avoided at all cost.”
Assistant Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Mrs Deborah Adamu-Eteh, said that law enforcement agencies should be strengthened to achieve maximum output Instead of creating a new agency of investigation and prosecution of electoral offences.
Deborah Ete, who represented the EFCC chairman, said electoral process was seasonal in nature being that elections are held once in 4 years in the country.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Mrs Aisha Dukku, explained that the bill would address challenges in the nation’s electoral process.
Writing by Ibrahim Shehu; editing by Annabel Nwachukwu