INEC charges N’Assembly on electoral offences commission

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has called on the Senate and the House of Representatives, to expedite action on the bill proposed by the electoral reform committee, for the establishment of an electoral offences commission.

Such initiative, INEC argued, will ensure the speedy prosecution of the numerous electoral offenders identified by the commission, to have violated extant electoral laws, during elections.

It will be recalled that the Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais panel on electoral reforms, had advocated the establishment of a special tribunal, to try electoral offences.

Speaking in Abuja during a workshop with youth and women groups on voters’ registration, continuous voters’ registration and the permanent voters’ cards, INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, observed that an electoral offences tribunal, will assist the commission in the prosecution of a litany of election-related offences, many of which the commission has not been able to prosecute, owing to lack of resources.

Jega further lamented the frustration faced by the commission, as some of the highly- placed offenders, obtained injunctions from courts of competent jurisdictions, to restrain the commission from initiating any trial. He, however, expressed optimism that this will be a thing of the past, once the bill to that effect was passed into law.

To demonstrate the seriousness the electoral umpire attaches to the pending bill, Jega said he personally got in touch with the Senate President, Mr. David Mark, as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, on the compelling need to hasten deliberations on the bill and its passage.

Meanwhile, Prof. Jega has promised to make the 2015 general elections a model, stressing that reported cases of ‘dead persons’ voting during elections, will be consigned to the dustbin of history.

To achieve this, the chief electoral officer said; “Only legitimate holders of the permanent voters’ cards will be allowed to vote in 2015; no dead person will vote in any election again.”

Apart from the permanent voters’ cards, which he said, the commission will soon make available, Jega also said the commission “will carry out nationwide continuous voters’ registration exercise after the November 16, governorship election in Anambra State.”

It was also revealed that the commission has since ‘consolidated the voters’ registration exercise after the data clean-up and screening exercise, in order to optimise and make it more credible.”

According to Jega; “INEC would have eliminated all multiple registrations by 2015, which will be devoid of any addendum.” As a prelude to these measures, INEC said it has developed a five-year strategic plan, which included the ‘delimitation’ of constituencies, development of election management infrastructure, among others.

It also asserted, as part of its repositioning agenda, the use of modified voting system, introduction of new security measures for protecting voters’ identity and the development of a revised framework for collation of results and also the training and retraining of ad-hoc staff. In a related development, Prof. Jega has cautioned politicians against using ‘war metaphors’ during electioneering.

This was even as he regretted that some politicians arm youths during elections, not minding whether some of them end up as drug addicts. He said: “The attitude of leaders of parties has to be democratic; they need to have civility in the way they manage and run the parties.

“Youths are misused if not abused. This should not be allowed to happen. As youth leaders, you have a responsibility to ensure that youths and women are not used in negative ways.

“Politics is not a do or die affair. Electoral contest should not be seen as a war contest. And the bottom line is if politicians buy arms and drugs and give them to youths it will not augur well for our electoral process,” Jega reiterated.

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