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Lawyer Gives AGF Ultimatum To Prosecute Indicted Electoral Offenders
Civil Rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, has given the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, two months to ensure that the 41 persons indicted for acts criminalized by the Electoral Act such as forgery, perjury and breach of trust, are prosecuted as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, panel.
The NHRC had named the country’s judiciary, the Nigerian Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as being responsible for electoral fraud and impunity in the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
Aturu in a pressed statement on Wednesday hailed the investigation carried out by the NHRC as “creditably done” and urged the AGF to ensure that the report is implemented before the end of June 2014.
“The recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission that 41 persons who were allegedly indicted in judgments of Tribunals and Courts of competent jurisdiction of committing various reassures us that there are people in government institutions who recognize the need to wage an implacable war against electoral and other impunities,” the lawyer said.
He reminded the Adoke that what he does with the report may well determine how his tour of duty will be historically assessed, stressing that “unless we send to prison those who take delight in perverting the electoral will of our people, we can never make democracy work in Nigeria”.
The NHRC in its report on the investigation of the election petitions filed at the various election petition tribunals across the six geo-political zones, found the three key organisations in the electoral process culpable of promoting electoral offences, which it said, are a threat to the nation’s democracy.
According to the report, which is titled “An Independent Review of Evidence of Gross Violations of the Rights to Participate in Government to Public Service and to fair trial through the Election Petition Process in Nigeria between 2007 and 2011”, there was sufficient evidence which showed how the judiciary sanctioned criminality in the electoral system.
The report also chronicled incidences of unlawful substitution of candidates by political parties and INEC, inflation of the numbers of ballots cast, forgery of election returns, and intimidation of voters and election officials at polling centres.
According to the report, the practice of falsifying election results is far from abating.
It cited a 2007 case in Kano State, where the tribunal there complained that INEC wanted it “to tacitly endorse abracadabra” and another case in a ward in Anambra State during the same year’s election, where only 2,089 voters registered but yet 7,226 votes was declared by INEC.
INEC was also found guilty of generating results for elections that did not hold and announcing results even before the completion of collation.