The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that he has a list of 774 persons arrested during the 2023 General Elections for various electoral offences, stating that an arrangement has been concluded with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for their prosecution.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)’s monthly review forum for the 2023 elections focused on “Accountability for Electoral Crimes and Human Rights Violations in Elections”, the Director, Litigation and Prosecution, INEC, Taminu Inuwa noted that the electoral commission is empowered by the provision of Section 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022 to prosecute electoral offenders.
He said: “It is in recognition of the statutory power of INEC to prosecute electoral offences that the Inspector General of Police recently forwarded 215 case files of electoral crimes to the commission for the prosecutions 774 persons arrested during the 2023 General Elections for various shades of electoral offences including dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy, disorderly conduct at election, being in possession of offensive weapons, destruction of election materials, political thuggery, electoral violence, snatching of ballot box, stealing of sensitive election materials, etc.”
He reveled that INEC is partnering with the Nigerian Bar Association which has offered to provide pro-bono legal services fir the effective prosecution of the electoral offenders arrested in the course of the 2023 General election.
He however said: “It is worthy of note that a number of key challenges including lack of capacity of INEC in terms of power to investigate and arrest electoral offenders have been identified as militating against effective prosecution and the consequent inadequate prosecution of/conviction on electoral offences recorded over the years.”
He noted that: “The challenges necessitated the call for the creation of an independent body to handle prosecution of electoral offences with such powers as conferred on the EFCC and ICPC to arrest, investigate and prosecute electoral offenders.”
He promised that the commission shall continue to Putin its best in the discharge of its statutory power of electoral offences prosecution until the proposed body is established by law, insisting that “this is the assurexway of reducing the spate of brazen impunity with which electoral offences are committed.”
Meanwhile, the NHRC has condemned the spate of violence during the election re-run in some states, a Senior Human Rights Advisor to the National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Hillary Ogbonna while presenting the April Edition of NHRC 2023 Elections Human Rights Situation Dashboard said violence is assuming dangerous dimension during Nigeria’s elections.
He lamented that three voters were killed for resisting thugs in Wudil, Kano State, an APC chieftain killed in Ughelli North, Delta State, another APC ward chairman murdered in Dekina LGA Kogi state, and a
member of a proscribed vigilante group killed for ballot snatching in Kebbi State.
He decried that journalists were not spared from attacks during the last election wit 10 journalists intimidated and chased out of polling unit by thugs in Abeokuta North; three-person Arise TV crew covering the governorship and House of Assembly election injured and had their equipment seized.
He said it was disheartening that In the process of vote buying, thugs were unleashed, leading to the attack of a group of journalists in transit, and security
officials excluding a handful of journalist from covering the collation centre in Kano state
He noted that Akam James, correspondent with Daily Post was assaulted in Ebelebiri community ward 05 unit 19 and the Publisher of Upfront Magazine was also beaten up, TVC Crew was chased out of the community.
He said the NHRC was ready to take up the case of violence against any journalists, urging media practitioners to come public with cases of attack against them during the recently concluded elections.