INEC Chairman Laments Spate of Electoral Violence, Reiterates Need for Electoral Offenses Commission

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has lamented the spate of violence that has greeted elections recently conducted in the country. He called for speedy setting up of Electoral Offenses Commission and Tribunal.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

He said: “More worrisome for INEC is the spectre of violence both in the course of political campaigns and against staff, materials and facilities of the Commission. Under such atmosphere INEC is severely constrained. Where we can’t fully deploy staff or the staff are held hostage and processes disrupted, there can be no elections and where we manage to deploy, there can’t be a conclusive outcome”.

The INEC Chairman was speaking today (Tuesday, 5th April 2016) at a Stakeholders Forum on Elections, convened by the Situation Room, with support from UK AID, held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

He decried the non-implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Uwais Committee report of 2008 and the Justice Lemmu Committee report on the 2011 post election crisis. The two reports both recommended, among others, the establishment of the Electoral Offenses Commission and Tribunal to try and penalize electoral offenders. Professor Yakubu argued: “A nation that does not punish violators of its own laws is doomed to be repeating its own misfortunes instead of making steady progress.”

On the observations and recommendations from observers and stakeholders, Professor Mahmood explained that INEC had begun the progressive implementation of some of them at policy level, adding that the Commission was aware of the need to go back to the drawing board and review its security architecture with the security agencies.

He pointed out that: “some of the fundamental reforms needed are outside the responsibility of INEC because they are not purely matters for policy change. We need the enabling legislation which only the National Assembly can provide. We also need institutional reforms, some of which again, only the National Assembly can legislate”.

He called for attitudinal change in order to stem the tide of violence in elections and to deliver credible, free and fair elections. Said he: “we need attitudinal change which only comes with value re-orientation as far as I can see comes in an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary manner and this takes time and the tireless efforts of all and sundry”.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN), also lamented the spate of electoral violence experienced in recent elections. He said: “of concern to this administration are the increasing levels of electoral violence as seen in some of the recently held elections”.

He explained that efforts were being made by the executive to ensure the much needed reforms in the Electoral Act were achieved. “I have begun consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly and the Judiciary to identify the key laws and priority areas for reform. Our priority areas will be clearly outlined in our justice sector reform that we will propose to the National Assembly and align it with their agenda in order to achieve reform within the tenure of this administration,” he said.

On her part, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aisha Dukku, assured that efforts were in place to ensure the Electoral Act (2010 as amended) got reviewed as quickly as possible to meet the standard that would improve elections in Nigeria.

She explained that a team of experts had reviewed the 2015 general elections and the lessons and experiences there from and have since submitted their report to her Committee for consideration. “The report provides some useful guide, which my Committee hopes to adopt in its electoral reforms,” she declared.

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