Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why INEC can’t prosecute electoral offenders – Jega

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INEC says lack of funds and personnel hamper prosecution of electoral offenders

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, on Wednesday in Abuja said the commission cannot successfully prosecute electoral offenders because it lacks adequate funds and manpower.

The commission, during the course of various elections across Nigeria, apprehended about 870 thousand electoral offenders, Mr. Jega said.

Only 200 of these, 0.02 per cent, have been successfully prosecuted.

The commission chairman said this at the INEC / Civil Society dialogue on plans and progress toward the 2015 elections. Mr. Jega said the prosecution was over offences arising from the 2011 voter registration and general elections.

One of the thousands of electoral offenders yet to be prosecuted is a serving senator from Bayelsa State whom the commission said it caught with ballot boxes and thumb-printed ballot papers during elections.

Mr. Jega said prosecuting has been “a big problem” because of paucity of funds and manpower.

“In actual fact some of those apprehended have been prosecuted and convicted but the number is just too small compared to those remaining,” he added.

He said one of those convicted was “a youth corper was also prosecuted and sentenced in Ondo for electoral manipulation.”

The electoral chairman said the police was in charge of prosecuting offenders until it was handed over to INEC, adding that the task was beyond the capacity of INEC and should not be left with the commission.

He said if INEC was saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders its major mandate would suffer because the quantum of offenders would be too much for the commission.

Mr. Jega called on government to work on the “Uwais panel report, on electoral reform, that recommended that a separate body should be set up to handle electoral offences”.

NAN

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