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NBA launches prosecution of electoral offenders from 2023 polls

Collaboration with INEC Targets Electoral Misconduct Amid Rising Calls for Accountability in Nigeria's Democratic Process

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The Nigerian Bar Association, in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has embarked on the prosecution of individuals implicated in various electoral offences during the 2023 general elections, signalling a critical step towards fostering accountability and integrity in Nigeria’s democratic system.

Amid widespread concerns over electoral misconduct’s adverse impact on the nation’s democratic landscape, the move seeks to address the rampant violations that undermine the credibility of electoral processes and jeopardize citizens’ rights.

Following the February 25, 2023, presidential and National Assembly elections, former Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, disclosed that over 700 individuals were apprehended for contravening electoral laws, reflecting the pervasive nature of electoral malpractices.

INEC, on May 2, 2023, announced its intention to prosecute 215 out of the 774 persons detained by the Nigeria Police Force for electoral offences during the polls, with particular attention to vote-buying, possession of arms, and other infractions.

Habeeb Lawal, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, revealed that 196 suspects, including INEC officials and political party members, are currently facing prosecution for various electoral transgressions. These offences encompass dereliction of duty, voter inducement, electoral violence, and unlawful possession of election materials, among others.

The collaborative effort extends to magistrates’ courts and high courts across states and the Federal Capital Territory, ensuring a comprehensive legal response to electoral violations.

Lawal underscored the significance of successful prosecution in deterring future electoral misconduct, emphasizing its potential to bolster public trust and fortify the electoral process against manipulation and corruption.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, reiterated the commission’s unwavering commitment to upholding electoral integrity, stressing the imperative of holding offenders accountable to foster a culture of compliance and respect for democratic norms.

Auwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, emphasized the pivotal role of punitive measures in curbing election-related violence and corruption, underscoring the importance of sanctions in deterring potential offenders.

Victor Giwa, a legal practitioner, highlighted the transformative impact of prosecuting electoral offenders in promoting transparency and engendering credible leadership, signaling a pivotal shift towards accountability and fairness in Nigeria’s electoral landscape.

Jackson Omenazu, a rights activist, called for stringent punishment for electoral offenders regardless of their status, emphasizing the imperative of upholding the rule of law to safeguard citizens’ rights and preserve the sanctity of Nigeria’s electoral processes.

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