Plan to unbundle INEC under way
‘Electoral offences’ tribunal may be autonomous’
An amendment to the Electoral Act to be presented to the National Assembly soon would include the unbundling of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into semi-autonomous entities.
The Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Dr. Abubakar Momoh, who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday at the policy briefing on election violent mitigation tools by the CLEEN Foundation, said that though the semi-autonomous units would still be part of the commission, they would function without any interference from INEC.
He said: “The commission is working on an amendment to the Electoral Act that will include the unbundling of the commission into entities that would be semi-autonomous in the execution of their mandates. One of the most important entities that would emerge is the electoral offences pane. It is important to have such a panel within INEC that will be saddled with punishing electoral violence acts among the political actors.
“The orgy of violence is continuing because there has been nobody that has been punished for electoral violence since 1999 when democracy returned. The amendment would soon be presented to the National Assembly after all the relevant stakeholders have been consulted and consensus reached on all of the issues.”
Abubakar, who also highlighted that the absence of legal instrument to prosecute electoral offenders has contributed to the rising level of other types of violence in the country, said that the Institute is developing an e-training model that would be used in the training of civil society groups towards mitigating violence within the polity.
Presenting the policy brief, the Acting Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Benson Olugbuo, said the move to develop new instruments and protocols for the prevention of electoral violence was necessitated by the failure of instruments that have worked elsewhere but failed to work in Nigeria.
“Despite the existence of electoral violence mitigation instruments that had worked elsewhere which were adopted in Nigeria, electoral violence continued to happen here. In some instances, different organizations that deployed these tools for the same elections often at different, at times conflicting conclusions. These deficiencies cast shadow on the predictive capability of these instruments. The problem may not be unconnected to the fact that most of these tools were developed in different contexts without much consideration for the Nigerian electoral environment. Hence, the need for a standardised approach imbued with sufficient local contents and applicability. This is the main essence of the project,” he stated.
The new instrument included creation of platform for the prosecution of people involved in election-related violence and other forms of electoral offences; sustainable civic and voter education for citizens by relevant government agencies on the need to eschew electoral violence; reform and empower the judiciary to be able to independently, impartially and timely dispense election cases and pay special attention to regions/zones/states with a history of electoral violence or identified as a conflict-prone zone.
The new instruments also urged INEC to handle the establishment of an electronic database on electoral violence through the Electoral Institute.
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