Senate urges INEC to sanction persons, parties acting illegally

President Muhammadu Buhari has presented reasons why he declined to assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act forwarded to him by the National Assembly (NASS), but here is a second look at the reasons he cited.

"The electoral offences Bill seeks to Establish an independent commission and will address issues relating to the coordination of laws".

The reordering of the 2019 election sequence by members of the National Assembly did not only cause stir among the lawmakers but Nigerians as well and INEC had expressed its intention to challenge the amendment in court.

Declaring open the public hearing, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said establishment of the commission would curtail political thuggery, bribery for voters and all other offences bedevilling the country's electoral processes.

He said, "Of recent, there have been arguments on who has power to do what". "In fact, before we closed on Friday, we were slammed with another court order from Enugu on another matter and each time anybody goes to court, INEC is joined and joining INEC means we have to get lawyers to represent us", Yakubu said.

He said: "More so that some of the offenders may be staff of INEC itself; how do we prosecute ourselves so the solution will be to have a commission to prosecute violators of Electoral Act".

A similar letter was sent to Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate.

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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. "That responsibility will now lie with the electoral commission and so INEC can now focus on delivery free and fair election in line with its mandate, " he said.

"At present, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offender".

"Without the capacity to make arrest and investigate violations, the prosecutorial role is severely hampered".

He said that he was in support for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission because INEC would find it hard to efficiently prosecute electoral offenders and focus on its enormous responsibilities simultaneously.

He also warned against appointment of ex-officio members, while calling for a proper definition of "electoral offences".

"The bill, when passed into law, will not only ensure effective prosecution of offenders, it will also enable INEC to focus and prioritise on its other extensive responsibilities", he stated.

"Subsequently, due to human dynamics, crimes and offences of election tend to evolve".

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