Foremost human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately take over the prosecution of electoral offenders arrested during the Saturday’s elections.
He made the call yesterday in a letter addressed to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, urging the commission not to leave the prosecution of the offenders for the police.
Falana’s letter dated February 24, 2019 was written to the INEC chairman against the background of the announcement by the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, that the police would soon arraign the suspected electoral offenders before the magistrates’ and area courts.
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The letter reads: “According to the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Adamu Mohammed, the suspected electoral offenders would soon be arraigned in the appropriate Magistrate and Area Courts.
“But going by the past experience, the prosecution of the electoral offenders will be taken over by state attorneys-general who will file nolle prosequi for the termination of the cases due to political pressure from the ruling party in each of the affected states.
“To prevent such official impunity, we are compelled to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission to take over the prosecution of the electoral offenders.
“Our call is backed by Section 150 of the Electoral Act, 2010 which has vested INEC with the powers to prosecute any person who violates the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Falana also lamented that the political class had rejected the call for the establishment of election electoral offences commission or tribunal in order.
He said, “In order to shield electoral offenders from prosecution, the members of the political class have rejected the popular call for the establishment of electoral offences commission/tribunal.
“However, we have confirmed that hundreds of criminal elements were arrested by the police and other security agencies while attempting to disrupt the presidential/National Assembly elections held throughout the country on Saturday, February 23, 2019.
“Before then, scores of other criminal suspects were arrested during the political campaigns of the political parties for breaching the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.”