The National commissioner and chairman of information and voter education of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Festus Okoye, has called on the National Assembly to pass the bill for an Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal to guard against impunity during elections
Okoye made the call at a training organised for journalists in collaboration with INEC at the state capital, Abakaliki, on Tuesday.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Conflict Sensitive Reporting and 2023 General Elections”, Okoye said the commission is yet to be equipped with the capacity to arrest electoral offenders.
Okoye added that the Chairman of the Commission went before the both Houses of the National Assembly and pleaded with them to give effect to the bill before them for the creation of Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal.
According to Okoye, “The bill will enable the commission to have the power to commence investigation, have the power to arrest electoral offenders and also have the power to prosecute them.
“We believe that unless we have such a commission, the impunity will continue to pester and people will continue to recycle electoral offences because there is no sanction”, Okoye said.
Earlier, INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who acknowledged additional powers given to the commission in the recently signed Electoral Act 2022, argued that only electoral offenders are tried while the masterminds of the offences have not been properly dealt with.
He regretted previous attempts to pass the bill for the establishment of the commission, saying the failure to do so had frustrated efforts to get justice against offenders in Nigeria’s courts over the years.
Yakubu said out of the 125 cases of electoral offences filed in various courts, only 60 convictions have been made since 2015.