The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) threatened to interrupt the holding of elections for the Edo government, if it perceives any form of violence.
The Commission warned political parties and candidates participating in the September 19 elections not to contemplate violating peace and order in any way.
INEC's National Commissioner and the President's Electoral Information and Education Committee, Festus Okoye, declared the Commission's position during a program, setting Nigeria's Elections, monitored on national television.
According to him, INEC will make no attempt to compromise the safety of its employees and other workers seconded to the election.
“Politicians must not challenge us; we will interrupt the process if we notice any violence. Some of the people we mobilize for the elections are workers from federal institutions as adhoc employees and no organization mobilizes people to go and be killed, ”he said.
Likewise, the president of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, also deplored the Commission's inability to punish electoral offenders
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The INEC president also spoke during a live TV and virtual city hall meeting on electoral reforms, held Tuesday.
The event was organized by CSO YIAGA Africa and other partners.
According to him, “we are essentially concerned with the failure or the inability to penalize electoral offenders. This has been at the heart of the many challenges we face when elections are declared inconclusive simply because of violence.
“At least for the past eleven years, recommendations have been made by one committee after another, and it seems that there is a convergence of intentions, particularly between the Executive and the National Assembly on the issue of punishment for electoral offenders.
“I remember the recommendations of the Uwais Committee, nothing was done about the recommendations of that committee; in 2011, we had great post-election violence; the Lemu committee made the same recommendations; accepted the government white paper. But we have made no progress; there in 2015/2016, this government created the Ken Nnamani committee and made the same recommendations ”.
He recalled that, “there were also motions by the National Assembly with several private members of the Bill to establish an electoral crime commission and court.
“We hope that this time, as part of the reforms to our electoral process, we will pay special attention to this issue. The commission is currently burdened with the responsibility that I have said repeatedly that there is no inferior capacity or absolute legal support to implement. For example, INEC is burdened with the responsibility to prosecute electoral offenders. How do you prosecute election offenders when the first step toward prosecution is prison?
“INEC has no police, we have to rely on the regular police. I have been working with the Inspector General of Police in this regard. In last year's general elections, 16 cases were referred to the commission and we are prosecuting offenders where we know that the crimes were committed as required by law. But we have our restrictions in that regard.
“Second, there needs to be an appropriate investigation that leads to evidence that leads to prosecuting offenders. We simply do not have the capacity to investigate offenses committed. But here we have a responsibility to prosecute electoral offenders. ”
He added that “we have a very good and conscientious team. But some of the offenders may be former commission officials. It is very difficult for any organization to penalize or prosecute itself. Therefore, we are totally in agreement with the recommendations made by the previous commissions and with the type of motion that we had from the National Assembly for the bill of private members to establish commission and court for electoral offenses. I said it again and I use it again that any nation that does not penalize its electoral aggressors is doomed ”.