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Oloja, Jega, others brainstorm for better 2023 polls

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
27 April 2022   |   3:27 am
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Martins Oloja and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega...

Oloja

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Martins Oloja and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, have expressed different views on the establishment of a national electoral offences commission to tackle impunity in Nigeria’s balloting.

They made their opinions known, yesterday, in Abuja, at a discussion titled, ‘Electoral Offences in Nigeria, Ensuring Documentation and Effective Prosecution,’ organised by The Electoral Hub.

While Attahiru held that the establishment of a body to look into issues relating to electoral malpractices would end the impunity in the system, Oloja, on the other hand, urged the government to focus on resolving problems with existing structures to tackle the menace.

According to the former INEC ex-boss, if the commission of an electoral offence is established to focus on specific objectives like the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (lCPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), it would address the fundamental issues undermining electoral integrity in the county.

He said: “If you can have the commission of an electoral offence that can focus on issues like ICPC or EFCC that have investigative and prosecutorial powers, it should be able to address that issue of impunity, which undermines electronic integrity.”

Attahiru charged stakeholders to back the establishment of the commission of an electoral offence due to the intrinsic value of the work that it would do in terms of upscaling the integrity of the entire process.

He queried: “But is it possible then to conceptualise a compact agency with defined responsibilities and also getting the right kind of people to mount it just to focus on electoral offences? If we are able to do that, we may be able to minimise the impunity with which electoral offences are committed?

But Oloja insisted on civic education on the consequences that come with elections, stressing the need to have right leaders in the right places to run the system effectively.

For the electoral body’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu: “There should be the commission of an electoral offence that should be saddled with that responsibility so that INEC can focus on its core mandate of conducting the election and facing post-election assignments.”

Represented by Alhassan Umar, Chairman, Litigation and Prosecution Department, Yakubu went on: “ By virtue of the Electoral Act, INEC is empowered to prosecute electoral offenders, and it is doing that within the capacity that it has. Over the years, the position of INEC has been that the enormity of the assignment regarding the prosecution of electoral offences is such that is beyond its capacity.”

Earlier, Director, Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, who regretted that documenting and prosecuting electoral offences have been poor over the years, acknowledged that INEC had been tasked with enormous tasks of conducting elections, registering political parties, conducting voter registration and civic cum voter education.

According to her, the election has been unable to make significant efforts in prosecuting electoral offenders, as the major challenge is a lack of resources in terms of human capacity and finances to execute the job.