The Independent National Electoral Commission has stated that prosecuting perpetrators of electoral violence and their sponsors will reduce the prevalence of violence in the country’s elections. It also emphasised the importance of establishing an Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal to investigate such violations.
Like previous elections, the recently held February 25 and March 18 elections were marred by violence, with many people killed and ballot boxes and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines stolen and, in some cases, destroyed.
Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, stated 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 be incomplete if electoral offenders were allowed to walk freely.
The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters.
Yakubu, who acknowledged the additional powers granted to the commission by the new Electoral Act of 2022, contended that only electoral offenders were tried, while the masterminds were not dealt with properly.
He regretted the failed attempts to pass the bill establishing the commission.
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, told our correspondent on Friday that if the new commission was established, electoral offenders and their sponsors would reconsider their actions.
“Electoral violence should not be tolerated,” he stated. That is why the commission has advocated for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal, specifically to try cases involving electoral infractions.
“In fact, stakeholders have been calling for this tribunal for many years, particularly since the 2011 general elections.” I am confident that if perpetrators and sponsors of electoral violence are aware that they will be held accountable for their actions, they will reconsider. The commission was successful in prosecuting a few electoral offenders, but their sponsors were largely unaffected. This needs to change.”