2023: INEC to prosecute 1,076 electoral offenders nationwide

 In the aftermath of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA ,and the Police have concluded plans to prosecute no fewer than 1, 076 electoral offenders arrested across 35 states during the exercise.

This was as it emerged that about 18 case files involving financial crimes committed during the elections would be handled by INEC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Also, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, it was gathered, has forwarded one case file to INEC with regards to the polls.

While 191 case files have been prepared, a breakdown of the distribution by state showed that Ebonyi has the highest number of cases, 64, involving 216 suspects. 

Edo State is second with 22 cases and 80 suspects, while Anambra is third with 12 cases involving 66 suspects.

Similarly, Kaduna which is fourth with 11 cases, has 36 suspects; Adamawa ranks fifth with 10 cases, 17 suspects; while Kano, Rivers and Osun states share the fifth position with nine cases apiece, involving 74, 68 and 47 suspects respectively. Yobe State is at bottom of the table with just one case file implicating two suspects.

The electoral offences committed range from “culpable homicide and unlawful possession of firearms”, “snatching and destroying of INEC items,” “being in possession of offensive weapons”, “Misconduct at polling unit and stealing of election results” among several others.

NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, had during a recent visit to INEC chairman , Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, pledged that his members would provide legal services pro bono for the prosecution of electoral offenders as part of their patriotic duty to their fatherland.

“In fulfilment of that pledge, Maikyau in a recent letter to Prof. Yakubu, listed 191 lawyers, including 16 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, that have accepted to take up cases in the various states free of charge, with the assistance of the Police and INEC for diligent prosecution. 

”The suspects linked to the case files are in custody, they have been investigated and the necessary evidence against them harvested,” said a top official of the commission..

Confirming the development yesterday, Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, described it as an unprecedented collaboration involving INEC, NBA and the Nigeria Police.

According to him, letters of authority have already been prepared and will be issued to the NBA team as soon as possible to commence proceedings on all the cases.

He, however, explained that the NBA returned 26 case files to the commission for onward transmission to the Police as the offences involved do not fall under electoral offences as defined by the Electoral Act 2022.

“Besides, suspects involved in 22 out of the cases are either at large or were never apprehended,” he stated.