As the menace of electoral malpractices continues to undermine efforts to have free, fair and credible elections across Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the federal government to as a matter of concern establish Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as recommended by different committees in the past to prosecute offenders.
The commision said though it would continue to engage security and anti-corruption agencies to confront that challenge during elections, setting up the commission or tribunal would boost their efforts in improving the quality of election conducted across the country.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call on Tuesday during the Osun State Governorship Election Stakeholders meeting held in Osogbo.
The meeting was held to brief stakeholders about preparations of the commission so far for the Osun State Governorship Election coming up on Saturday, 16 July 2022.
He said issues of electoral malpractices have been a matter of serious concern in the nation’s elections as they not only constitute violations of the electoral laws, but also cause instability in the polity.
He said, “I am referring to sundry violations of our electoral law, including the diabolical practice of vote buying in which voters are financially induced to vote one way or another.
“It is obvious that the more the Commission and other stakeholders work hard to progressively improve the quality of national elections in Nigeria, the more some retrogressive elements try to undermine the process.
“While we will continue to work with the security and anti-corruption agencies to confront this challenge, our effort will be given a boost by the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as recommended by the Uwais Committee in 2009, reinforced by the Lemu Committee in 2011 and the Nnamani Committee in 2017.
“Happily, the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill is under consideration of the National Assembly. INEC supports this initiative and appeals to the National Assembly for a speedy conclusion and passage of the Bill into law,” Yakubu stated.
The INEC Chairman assured political parties and candidates in the Osun governorship election that the commission would do everything possible to ensure that the citizens decide who becomes the next governor of the state. “INEC will not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on the processes and procedures as provided by law,” the INEC boss added.
He further stated that the electoral body has taken every step and made arrangements for the successful conduct of the governorship election this weekend. Such preparations according to him include, recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff to be deployed on the election day; sensitisation of voters; delivery of all non-sensitive electoral materials for the election to all the 30 Local Government Area offices of the commission across the state; plan for transportation of personnel and materials to various parts of the state to ensure that polling units open on schedule on the Election Day, among other preparations.
Speaking on voter registration, Yakubu stated that opportunities were given for eligible voters to register in the 332 Wards across the state. He disclosed that the commission has printed and delivered the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) for fresh registrants, transfers and requests for replacement of cards as a result of loss, damage or incorrect personal details, adding that the electoral body has recorded 76 per cent rate in collection of the PVCs.
He also announced that the commission has extended the last date for the collection of PVCs to Thursday 14th July 2022 (i.e. 24 hours to the election), and appealed to all registered voters who are yet to collect their PVCs to do so in order to participate in the election.
“To ensure that more voters collect their PVCs, the INEC boss stated that the commission with effect from last week Thursday started distribution of the voter cards at ward level thereby increasing the number of collection centres and bringing the process closer to the people.”