INEC Gets 60 Convictions From 125 Electoral Litigations
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC said it secured 60 convictions from 125 cases of electoral litigation filed in various Courts since the 2015 General Election including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom State.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman who spoke on the bill for an Act to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission at the public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters Tuesday, said litigation has made the commission’s job very challenging.
“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 said.
INEC is an electoral commission with extensive responsibilities which include the registration and regulation of political parties, the monitoring of party and campaign finance, their primaries, congresses, meetings and conventions; nationwide Continuous Voter registration, CVR and the maintenance of the national register of voters; creation of polling units; delimitation of electoral constituencies; voter education and publicity; management of electoral logistics; recruitment, training and deployment of election duty officials
Its other responsibilities include the conduct of numerous off-cycle and bye-elections; new innovations to promote inclusivity and electoral integrity; election security in consultation with the security agencies; strategic engagement with stakeholders; formulation of regulations, guidelines and manuals for the conduct of elections and electoral activities to give clarity to the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act; and maintenance of extensive physical assets (offices, residential accommodation and other facilities) nationwide.
In Nigeria, the INEC is also saddled with the responsibility to prosecute electoral offenders.
Yakubu however said in many jurisdictions, some of these responsibilities are carried out by distinct and autonomous agencies.
He reminded the committee that the Commission’s incapacity to arrest offenders or conduct investigation that leads to successful prosecution of especially the high-profile offenders, led to the suggestion to unbundle the Commission and assign some of its extensive responsibilities to other agencies as recommended by the Uwais and Nnamani Committees and others.
“For those who argue that the solution does not lie in expanding the federal bureaucracy by creating a new commission, we believe that the National Electoral Offences Commission should be seen as an exception. While there are other security agencies that deal with economic and financial crimes, I am yet to hear anyone who, in good conscience, thinks that it is unnecessary to have established the anti-corruption agencies.
The commission having studied the 46 Clauses of the Bill under consideration and made 16 comments however raised objections on two clauses.
First is Clause 33 (1) of the Bill which confers jurisdiction on Federal, State and FCT High Courts to try offenders under the Bill and Clause 44 which empowers the Attorney-General of the Federation to make rules or regulations for the Commission.
While Yakubu noted that these Courts are already over-burdened, he also stated that conferring additional power to any other body may cause friction or conflict with the Commission which should be independent in the discharge of its functions even if doing so requires consequential amendment to other laws of the Federation to empower the Commission and guarantee its independence.