Electoral offenders need to be punished in accordance with the law – INEC, ECES
The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) says electoral offenders in Nigeria should be punished in accordance with the law to make the electoral process ever more credible.
Speaking today at a training for Legal Staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and Police Officers on Prosecution of Electoral Offences in Lagos, the centre which is a non-profit foundation promoting sustainable democratic development through advisory services & capacity development said the perpetration of election offences undermines the smooth conduct of elections and an impact on the integrity of the electoral process.
In a goodwill Message by Mr. Rudolf Elbling, Project Coordinator of the ECES represented by Maria Teresa Mauro, noted that election offences constitute violation of the laws and regulations guiding the conduct of elections, thus may lead to the disruption of elections, sometimes destruction of election materials and so forth.
“They can generate to the point of constituting a threat to the security of voters and elections personnel. The perpetration of election offences contributes to voter and distortion of election outcomes.
“Offenders need to be punished in accordance with the law to make the electoral process ever more credible. The objective of the training is to improve the skills of INEC Legal and police officers in the prosecution of election offences,” she said.
In her keynote address, INEC’s National Commissioner & Chair, Legal Services Committee Mrs. May Agbamuche said there is the need to prevent, curtail and manage various electoral offences. According to her, recent happenings in Ekiti State during the just concluded governorship election have thrown up the need for a closer look at prosecutorial efforts in the area of electoral offences.
“Vote buying has become an issue as witnessed in the Ekiti State Governorship Election and INEC cannot stand aloof and allow its efforts in planning successful elections be thrown into disrepute. We must protect the secrecy and sanctity of the vote.
“Prosecution of electoral offences is a duty enjoined upon the Commission by virtue of Section 150(2) of the electoral Act 2010 (As amended) while police officers are empowered to arrest and investigate offenders by section 4 of the police Act CAP P19 LFN.
She noted that the duty of prosecution of electoral offences has become a burden on INEC and consequently, over the years the commission has been advocating the transfer of this responsibility to another agency, preferably the creation of Electoral Offences Commission.