Electoral Offenders Must Be Punished


Now that the Court of Appeal has declared Dr. Kayode Fayemi, candidate of the Action  Congress of Nigeria the real winner of the 14 April 2010 governorship election in  Ekiti State, what happens to the Independent National Electoral Commission officials  that rigged the election in favour of the People’s Democratic Party candidate?

Nigerians would remember that on that fateful day reports from various polling  stations in Ekiti State indicated that Dr. Fayemi of ACN was in the lead and Ekiti  State was agog with the hope of electing its very own governor but the people’s  hopes were dashed when INEC announced that the election was won by Mr. Olusegun Oni  of the People’s Democratic Party. The rest is now history.

But what about those INEC officials who, through their action or inaction,  obstructed the course of fair play by manipulating the results of the election? What  now happens to Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, the resident electoral commissioner for Ekti  State and Prof. Maurice Iwu, the disgraced chairman of INEC itself?

Not a few Nigerians have called for sanctioning of electoral offenders and we  believe appropriate punishment may deter would-be offenders in future elections. All  our electoral reforms will count for nothing if offenders and election riggers are  not punished.

In the Electoral Reform Committee report of the Justice Muhammed Uwais-led panel,  stiff penalties were recommended for electoral offenders including a 10-year ban for  politicians who violate laws. Those to be affected in the proposed 10-year ban  include election riggers and candidates seeking elective office who violate  electoral laws.

Related News

The ERC also recommended a 10-year ban for any candidate whose election is nullified  based on electoral malpractices. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a member of the  Electoral Reform Committee, while shedding light on some of the recommendations said  they  recommended, for the first time, that there should be the creation of an  Electoral Offences Commission, something like the EFCC for electoral offenders and  that “the committee has also recommended that a constitution amendment should be  carried out, wherein the Attorney General of the Federation would enter a nolle  prosequi plea in electoral offences, which means that all electoral offenders should  be prosecuted. That report was submitted in December, 2009 but nothing seems to have  been done about it.

Electoral offenders are not punished in Nigeria and this is why the problem  worsens with every election.Those who snatched ballot boxes in 1999 were the same  people who voted in the homes of party bigwigs in 2003. Worse still, these same set  of criminals in 2007 were so confident they would never be punished, that they  practically chased off registered voters and did what they wanted with the votes and  later announced the reults that were in favour of their candidates. And nothing  happened to them. Imagine what would happen next year if nothing is done about their  activities. They are becoming brazen every election year.

In several cases, security forces were used by the incumbent to commit electoral  offences, and this takes many forms. Firing shots into the air for no apparent  reason scares away many voters who fear casting their votes is a dangerous exercise.  Last week, a group, National Democratic Institute, urged the Federal Government to  deal with electoral misconduct as the nation approaches the 2011 elections.

If government continues to fold its hands as if it can do nothing to stem the  dangerous trend, if the National Assembly thinks only of their pockets and if the  self-styled largest party in Africa thinks it has the monopoly of everything, the  2011 election, no matter the effort of Professor Attahiru Jega to make it credible,  may be too hot to handle.

  Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2010 P.M.News

Load more