THE Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmood Yakubu has blamed the failure to prosecute electoral offenders on the inability of the National Assembly to pass the National Electoral Offences Commission Bill, 2022.
The is coming barely three months to the 2023 general election.
Yakubu, who spoke at a one day strategic interactive meeting with editors in Lagos on Saturday, December 3, appealed to the lawmakers to fast track the passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission Bill.
Although the INEC chairman admitted that the power to prosecute offenders rests upon the Commission, he bemoaned the inability to do that because of the non-passage of the Electoral Offences Bill.
“To prosecute electoral offenders fully rests upon the INEC. But we are constrained to prosecute any electoral offender due to the deficit of legislation,” he said.
According to him, If passed, the Bill would empower the Commission to prosecute the destroyers of INEC’s properties and kidnappers of its staff.
He however added that the Commission “is not responsible for the arrest of electoral offence suspects”.
“Also, INEC does not have the power to investigate electoral offences. These are challenges we are facing in prosecuting suspects of electoral offences.”
The INEC chairman stressed that the country’s electoral process would remain ineffective without proper laws and an agency that punishes the violators of electoral laws.
“INEC is not happy that most electoral offenders are let off the hook because INEC lacks the legislative backing to prosecute electoral offenders.
“Until a Bill for an Act to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission’’ becomes operational, INEC will not be able to expeditiously deal with electoral offenders,” he said.
Yakubu reiterated that the Commission plans to conduct the 2023 elections in 176, 846 polling units across the country, including the areas affected by insecurity.