INEC laments rising electoral cases, supports offences commission bill

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday lamented that there were over 1,000 lawsuits against the commission arising from the 2015 general elections.

He, therefore, supported the bill seeking to establish the electoral offences commission, saying to relieve INEC of the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offences was necessary to enable it focus and prioritise on other responsibilities.

His words: “Currently, the commission is facing over 1000 lawsuits arising from the 2015 general elections. And to remove the prosecutorial responsibility from INEC would make it become more effective.

“Shortly after the elections, INEC was taken to court 680 times. From January 2016 and December 2017, we have been taken to court over 400 times, which comes to over 1000 litigations since the 2015 general elections and the number keeps increasing.

Yakubu stated this at a public hearing organised by Senate Committee on INEC and the Judiciary on a bill to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission (NEOC).

He also stated that the commission received another court order from Enugu on another matter and that each time anybody goes to court, INEC was joined and “joining INEC means we have to get lawyers to represent us.”

He said the creation of the commission to arrest, investigate and prosecute all violators of electoral laws would go a long way in ensuring that offenders were prosecuted.

Yakubu further admitted that failure to enforce sanctions was encouraging impunity and violence that often characterised the country’s electoral process and, in effect, subverts the will of the people and undermine the tenets of democracy.

He disclosed that while INEC was saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders, the process was being severely hampered.

Wondering how INEC could effectively prosecute its staff allegedly involved in electoral offences, he said: “Some of the offenders may be staff of INEC so how do we prosecute them ourselves? The solution will be to have a commission to prosecute violators of the electoral act.

“INEC cannot effectively prosecute electoral offenders and at the same time focus on the extensive responsibilities under the constitution and the electoral act.”

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INECMahmood YakubuNEOC

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