The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it has a list of 774 persons arrested during the 2023 general election for various electoral offences, stating that an arrangement has been concluded with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for their prosecution.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at the National Human Rights Commission’s monthly review forum for the 2023 elections, which 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 was empowered by the provision of Section 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022 to prosecute electoral offenders.
“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 said.
He revealed that INEC was partnering the NBA, which has offered to provide pro-bono legal services for the effective prosecution of the electoral offenders arrested in the course of the 2023 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.
“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 would continue to put in 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 assurest way 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 assumed dangerous dimension during Nigeria’s elections.