INEC, DSS agree, differ on National Electoral Offences Commission

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, who made this known during the public hearing on the establishment of National Electoral Offences Commission, said the commission cannot effectively arrest and investigate electoral offenders due to the enormous tasks before it.

Security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday backed establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission in order to put an end to impunity and the violence that often characterize electoral contest in Nigeria.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, who made this known during the public hearing on the establishment of National Electoral Offences Commission, said the commission cannot effectively arrest and investigate electoral offenders due to the enormous tasks before it.
Yakubu said the proposal to establish the commission had been recommended by both the Justice Muhammadu Uwais Report, which was transmitted to the National Assembly in 2010, and the White Papers on recommendations of the report directly to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to take steps.
He said: “The failure to systematically and consistently enforce sanction has encouraged impunity and the violence that often characterize electoral contest in Nigeria, thereby subverting the will of the people and undermining the nation’s electoral democracy.
“At present, INEC is saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders. Sec 150(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act (as amended) empowers INEC to prosecute electoral offenders through its legal officers or any legal practitioner appointed by it without the powers to arrest and investigate, thus depending on the Police for his purpose.
“Without the capacity to make arrest and investigate violation, the prosecutorial role is severely hampered. INEC cannot effectively focus on this role given its other variegated responsibilities under the constitution and electoral law as amended.
“In spite of the constraint, INEC has successfully prosecuted some electoral offenders. Arising from the 2015 General Elections and subsequent bye-elections, 124 cases on electoral offences were filed and so far 60 conviction have been secured. Yet these convictions are as far from large number of electoral offences that occur.
“There are several factors responsible for the inadequate success ranging from huge prosecutorial risk, dependence on other agencies for arrest and investigation, time and resources against the backdrop of INEC’s extensive responsibilities of conducting elections and managing pre and post-elections litigations.
Also, the Department of State Services supported establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission.
The DSS, however, kicked against the bearing of arms by officials of the commission, saying the agency can request for secondment from security agencies.