To improve the capacity of the legal officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the police to prosecute election offenders, a two-day capacity building training has commenced in Sokoto.
The training supported by the European Union Centre for Electoral Support will be the first time the police and INEC officials will be coming together to brainstorm on the conduct of a peaceful and credible election.
In her goodwill message, the Senior Electoral Expert – Legal at the European body, Maria Mauro, pointed out that election offences constituted a violation of the laws and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.
She said, “This training represents another step towards improving the competence and skills of INEC legal and police officers to improve synergies among the two components to deliver fair and credible elections in 2019 and beyond.
“Election offences can degenerate to the point of constituting a threat to the security of voters and election personnel. The perpetration of election offences contributes to voter insecurity and the distortion of election outcomes.
“Offenders need to be punished according to the law to make the electoral process more credible.”
INEC National Commissioner and Chair, Legal Services Committee, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, in her keynote address, remarked that vote-buying had become an issue and INEC could not stand aloof and allow its efforts in planning successful elections to be thrown into disrepute.
She stated that the prosecution of electoral offences as specified by law had become a burden on the commission.
According to her, the commission has been advocating the transfer of this responsibility to another agency or entity, preferably the creation of an Electoral Offences Commission.
“Our capacity in terms of resources and personnel is simply not large enough to prosecute offences in 120,000 polling units, 8,809 wards, 360 federal constituencies, 109 senatorial districts and 774 Local Government Areas.”
Topics slated for discussion, with practical exercises, include challenges of prosecution of election offences in Nigeria, investigation, the framing of charges and arraignment of electoral offenders. – Punch
– Sept. 20, 2018 @ 9:05 GMT |