Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu has said his commission is determined to prosecute violators of the electoral act in the forthcoming general elections.
He gave the pledge on Tuesday in his remarks at a Police/ Stakeholders security summit organised by the Nigerian Police Force in Abuja.
Professor Yakubu who noted that it was the statutory responsibility of the security agencies to identify, pick and prosecute those whose activities undermine the electoral process, however, revealed that his Commission has been collaborating with security agencies in the latter’s mandate to sanitise election environment
He said: “As with all elections, security is going to be a major issue in the 2019 General Election. Security agencies have a responsibility to secure the environment for elections. By doing so, there is the overriding responsibility for professionalism and neutrality. The rules of engagement must be clear to all. Learning from the cumulative experience of the off-season elections conducted into 195 constituencies since the 2015 General Election, the conduct of some security personnel has become a major issue of discussion. We are deeply concerned. Consequently, it is imperative to review the template for the 2019 General Election in order to reassure Nigerians and the international community of our commitment to credible elections and to protect the sanctity of the electoral process. INEC will engage with the security agencies, particularly the police, in defining new parameters for the deployment of security agencies in the electoral process.
“As I said at a recent Workshop on election security organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), INEC shall fully apply the provision of Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which places in the Commission the sole responsibility for requesting the deployment of security personnel necessary for elections. The responsibility for assigning them is also to be determined by the Commission. INEC will remain responsible for the conduct of elections. The security agencies will continue to secure the environment in a manner that voters, observers and the media shall not feel intimidated or harassed. The process of conducting election shall remain the responsibility of INEC. We will continue to emphasise this point in our interaction with the security agencies both in a forum such as this as well as the meetings of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCESS).
“Similarly, we shall continue to work with the security agencies for the arrest and prosecution of violators of the electoral act. Working together with the police, we have successfully prosecuted 42 electoral offenders following violent disruption of the Minjibir State Constituency bye-election in Kano in 2016. Similarly, a number of other prosecutions are ongoing in Rivers State and most recently in Osun State where the police has forwarded nine (9) case files to the Commission, out of which three (3) cases involving vote buying and illegal possession of PVCs are being prosecuted. INEC believes that the best deterrence to violations of the law during elections is swift prosecution. We will continue to work with the security agencies in this regard.”
The INEC chairman also called on stakeholders to ensure that prospective voters pick their Permanent Voter’s Cards, (PVCs) ahead of the election.