The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the prosecution of sponsors of electoral violence, not only the immediate perpetrators, need to be taken into action, to reduce the prevalence of violence during elections.
The electoral body also emphasised the need for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal to look into such infractions.
Information Nigeria reports that Mahmood Yakubu, INEC’s chairman had said at a 2021 public hearing on the ‘Bill for an Act to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission’ that work on the country’s electoral process would remain incomplete if electoral offenders continue to walk freely.
The then hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters.
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Yakubu, while regretting the failed attempts to pass the bill for the establishment of the Offences Commission, acknowledged the additional powers given to INEC in the new Electoral Act, 2022, argued that only electoral offenders were tried while the masterminds had not been properly dealt with.
Chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, while speaking with The Punch on Friday noted that if the new commission was established, electoral offenders and their sponsors would reconsider their actions.
His words: “Electoral violence should not be tolerated. That is why the Commission has been calling for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal, specifically to try cases related to infractions associated with elections.
“In fact, stakeholders have also been calling for this tribunal for many years, especially after the 2011 general elections. I believe strongly that if perpetrators of electoral violence and their sponsors know that they will give account for their misdeeds, they will think twice. The commission has succeeded in prosecuting a few electoral offenders, but their sponsors have been largely untouched. We need to change this.”
Recall the recently held February 25 and March 18 elections witnessed violence, with many persons killed, ballot boxes and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines snatched.