INEC Chairman explains why it is difficult to prosecute electoral offenders in Nigeria

Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the Independent and National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained why it is hard for electoral offenders to be prosecuted in Nigeria.

The INEC boss who spoke during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja on Tuesday December 3, said they do not have the power to prosecute offenders but work closely with the police who are responsible for arrest, investigation and prosecution.

“Over the years, we have worked closely with the Nigeria Police. Since 2015 we have received a total of 149 case files, including 16 cases arising from the 2019 general election,” he said.

“The cases are prosecuted in the states where the alleged offences were committed.

“Unlike pre-election and post-election cases, there is no timeframe for the prosecution of electoral offenders. A case may go on for several years.

“Some of the cases were dismissed for want of diligent prosecution while in some states, the attorneys-general entered nolle prosequi to get the alleged offenders off the hook.

“Even where the commission recorded the most successful prosecution of electoral offenders following the violence witnessed in a bye-election in Kano State in 2016, it is unclear how many of the 40 offenders sentenced to prison with the option of fine actually spent time in jail.

“The fine was paid presumably by their sponsors.

“That is why we believe that the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal will dispense justice dispassionately and speedily in the same way that the Electoral Court deals with violators in other countries such as South Africa.”

The INEC Chairman also raised an alarm of elections for the executive positions in the country being characterised by brazen acts of impunity. He however expressed hope of security operatives arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of electoral violence and their sponsors.