June 16, 2024

The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has entered into a partnership with Nigerian Bar Association to prosecute the 215 electoral offenders forwarded to it by the police.

The commision said the NBA had offered to prosecute the offenders on its behalf pro bono.

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, stated this during the monthly review forum on Human Rights and the 2023 elections organised by the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja.

Yakubu, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Prosecutions, INEC, Nasara Auta, noted that out of the 774 persons arrested for various offences during the general elections, the police had forward the case files of 215 suspects to the commission.

Yakubu noted that in recognition of the statutory power of the commission to prosecute electoral offences, the Inspector General of Police recently forwarded 215 case files to INEC for prosecution.

He said, “ INEC is empowered by Section 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022 to prosecute electoral offenders, which it can discharge through private legal practitioners appointed by it or its legal officers.

“The commission is 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 general elections.”

Among the various grounds of arrest were dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy, disorderly conduct at the election, possession of weapons, destruction of election materials, political thuggery, electoral violence, snatching of ballot boxes, stealing of sensitive election materials and others.

The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Audi, represented by the Commandant, Election Monitoring Unit of the NSCDC, Fatima-Binta Ilesanmi, reiterated that the corps would continue to be professional and committed in the discharge of its mandates.

She called on the NHRC to be deliberate about bringing perpetrators of electoral and human rights offences to book to further strengthen the nation’s democracy.

She also added that victims should be served justice regardless of the political, cultural and religious affiliations of the offenders.

Meanwhile, the NHRC has called for the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the attack on the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Sokoto, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, in Adamawa State during the April 25 rerun election held in the state.

The Coordinator of MOVE project of the commission, Hillary Ogbonna, called on relevant authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attack were brought to book.

Zuru was reportedly attacked by a mob in Adamawa State on April 17 while on electoral duty as the National Commissioner for the North-West, deployed to the state for the governorship election.

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