FG begins prosecution of INEC officials and political party members for electoral offences

The Federal Government, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has commenced the prosecution of individuals involved in various electoral offences during the 2023 general elections.

The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to curb electoral fraud and promote credible, free, and fair elections in Nigeria.

Following the presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 25, 2023, the Nigerian Police Force, under the leadership of the then Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, reported the arrest of over 700 offenders for violating electoral laws.

Subsequently, on May 2, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced its intention to prosecute 215 individuals out of the 774 arrested by the police for various electoral offences.

The collaboration between INEC and the NBA, which offers pro bono legal services, has prosecuted 196 suspects.

The individuals, including INEC officials and members of political parties, are facing charges related to electoral offences such as vote-buying, arms possession, and other infractions committed during the 2023 polls.

Habeeb Lawal, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, provided insights into the ongoing prosecutions, stating, “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 charges encompass a range of offences, including dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy, disorderly conduct at election venues, unlawful possession of arms on election day, snatching and destroying of INEC materials, electoral malpractices, voter inducement and vote-buying, malicious damage and assault, and electoral violence.

Lawal emphasized that the prosecutions are taking place in magistrates’ courts and high courts across states and the Federal Capital Territory, as stipulated by the Electoral Act.

He expressed optimism that successful prosecutions would deter individuals aspiring to engage in electoral offences, contributing to the improvement and sanitization of the electoral system.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, reiterated the commission’s commitment to holding individuals accountable for their actions.

Oyekanmi told Punch, “While we have achieved some measure of success in prosecuting electoral offenders in the past, the NBA’s offer to assist us pro bono will further widen the scope and serve as a deterrent to others.”

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