The Independent National Electoral Commission has said the prosecution of perpetrators of electoral violence and their sponsors will curb the prevalence of violence in the nation’s elections. It also emphasised the need for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal to look into such infractions.
Like previous elections, the recently held February 25 and March 18 elections also witnessed violence, where many persons were killed and ballot boxes and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines were snatched and in some cases destroyed.
The INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, 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 hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters.
Yakubu, who acknowledged the additional powers given to the commission in the new Electoral Act, 2022, argued that only electoral offenders were tried while the masterminds had not been properly dealt with.
He regretted the failed attempts to pass the bill for the establishment of the commission.
Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, noted that if the new commission was established, electoral offenders and their sponsors would reconsider their actions.
He stated, “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.”