Electoral Fraud: FG begins Trial of INEC officials, others

0
114

By Kenneth Atavti

The Federal Government through the Nigerian Bar Association has commenced the prosecution of some staff members of the Independent National Electoral Commission and political party members indicted for various electoral offences during the 2023 general elections.

Electoral offences remain a major threat to credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria, as they often heighten political tension and trigger violence.

Following the February 25, 2023, presidential and National Assembly elections, the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, said over 700 offenders were arrested by men of the Nigeria Police Force for violating electoral laws.

INEC had on May 2, 2023, said it would prosecute 215 handed over to it out of the 774 persons arrested for various electoral offences by the NPF during the polls.

The commission said it was partnering with the NBA, which offered pro bono legal services for the effective prosecution of the electoral offenders.

Out of the 215 case files received by the commission, 196 cases are electoral offences and are being handled by INEC and the NBA.

The National Publicity Secretary, NBA, Habeeb Lawal, at the weekend said that 196 suspects, including INEC officials and members of political parties, were being prosecuted for various electoral offences such as vote-buying, arms possession, and others committed during the 2023 poll.

Lawal noted that the prosecution was being carried out in magistrates’ courts and the high courts of the states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He explained, “A total of 196 suspects are being prosecuted for various offences by volunteering members of the Nigerian Bar Association, who are handling the cases pro bono.

“The offences range from dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy and disorderly conduct at election venues, unlawful possession of arms on election day, snatching and destroying of INEC materials, electoral malpractices, unlawful possession of election materials, voter inducement and vote-buying, malicious damage and assault, and electoral violence.

“Some of the suspects are INEC officials, while others are political party members and people without determinable political affiliations.

“The magistrates’ courts and the high courts of the states and the FCT have jurisdiction over electoral offences by virtue of the Electoral Act.

“Therefore, the offences are being prosecuted by our members in these different courts all over the country, as there is hardly anyone state of the federation that the prosecution is not ongoing.”