The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) Monday launched a report on judicial corruption and electoral system.
The report titled ‘Corruption and Conflicting Judgements in Electoral Process and their Impact on Nigeria’s Democracy’ was launched at an event themed, ‘Enabling Democratic Consolidation through Adjudication’ which held in Abuja.
The report is a two-part research which focuses on the legal perspective of judicial corruption in electoral process and how it affects the perception of the electorate.
According to the report, the judiciary plays a central role in electoral processes given that elections in Nigeria are marred by irregularities.
Noting that an increasing number of elections ends up at election petition tribunals, he said the processes change the outcome of the elections to the dismay of the electorate.
This, the report, noted has led to “abysmal voter turnout during elections which if not checked, will exacerbate voter apathy.”
For instance, since 2007 till date, there has been a consistent reduction in voter turnout from various elections across the country.
The presidential elections of 2007 recorded 58 percent; 54 percent in 2011; 43 percent in 2015 and most recent, 35 percent in 2019.
The report, as a way of tackling issues of corruption in electoral cases, recommended the modernisation of the Electoral Act, 2010 to make electronic accreditation, collation and transfer of results in a way that does not remove INEC’s independence; the National Judicial Council (NJC) should be more committed to improving the ethical stature of the judiciary as an institution and systematically purging it of corruption.
It also recommended that “election-related crimes be statutorily defined, with stipulated stiff punishments including jail terms and disqualification from future elections for political actors to create deterrence.”
Jessica Odudu, a lawyer and project executive of PTCIJ, said: “having realised that there were alot of issues of corruption and conflicting judgements in the judiciary especially as it relates to elections, we decided to research further on the issues.”
“The judiciary is the least looked into organ of government but also one that is very importantly to the health of our democracy,” Ms Odudu said.
She said such meetings are also important as they help to better the relationship between the media and judiciary as these are two important pillars for Nigeria’s democracy.
The event, supported by the European Union, had in attendance judges from the supreme, federal high, and appeal courts, civil society organisations, and the media.
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