The Independent National Electoral Commission has advocated for a quick passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission which is already at public hearing stage having passed second reading in the Senate. The Bill, sponsored by Sen. Abubakar Kyari (APC-Borno), is seeking ways to mitigate electoral offences by prescribing adequate deterrence and sanctions for undemocratic forces
The Independent National Electoral Commission has advocated for a quick passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission which is already at public hearing stage having passed second reading in the Senate.The Bill, sponsored by Sen. Abubakar Kyari (APC-Borno), is seeking ways to mitigate electoral offences by prescribing adequate deterrence and sanctions for undemocratic forces in the electoral process.
The Electoral Act vests the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the discretion and powers to prosecute alleged electoral offenders but this has often been slowed down by technical issues in the regular courts.
The National Electoral Offences Commission when established will have powers to arrest, investigate and prosecute all violators of the Electoral Laws and will go a long way in ensuring that perpetrators of electoral offences are punished.
According to the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Bill when passed into law will not only ensure speedy and effective prosecution of electoral offenders, it will also enable INEC to focus and prioritise on its other extensive responsibilities as an Election Management Body (EMB)
The INEC boss INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who spoke at a Public hearing at the Senate Conference Hall, National Assembly Complex, Abuja, earlier in the week posits that part of the enormous budgetary expenditure on elections can be considerably reduced if the processes are devoid of disruptions caused by impunity.
‘The cost of running the proposed commission would pale into insignificance compared with the cost of perverting the nation’s electoral process. Establishing the commission would not bloat government’s recurrent expenditure’
Professor Yakubu said the failure to systematically and consistently enforce sanctions has encouraged impunity and the violence that often characterize electoral contest in Nigeria, thereby subverting the will of the people and undermining the nation’s electoral democracy.
The INEC boss said that the consideration and passage of the bill is long overdue given the strong advocacy by the two previous Committees set up by the Federal Government for a similar reason. The two Committees are the Electoral Reform Committee (Uwaise Report) 2008 and the Committee on the Post-election Violence (Lemu report) 2011.
Leading debate for the creation of the Commission on the floor of the Senate last year, Senator Kyari said that “electoral crimes led to low quality, corrupt and violent political leadership. Electoral crimes help election riggers and offenders take control of governments against the democratic will of the electorate. Electoral offences give birth to political apathy that forces the electorate to incrementally disengage from political process.”
Kyari noted that decisive deterrence through efficient criminal prosecutions was the most effective strategy for defeating electoral offenders.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that the Bill, when passed, would go a long way in sanitizing the electoral process. “With such a law in place, we will have better election; electoral offenders cannot carry out offences and not be punished,” Saraki said.