People’s Alternative Front (PAF) National Chairman Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take over the prosecution of the electoral offenders arising from the 2019 elections.
Falana, in a letter dated February 22 and addresses to INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, said this has become necessary to prevent official impunity.
He noted that members of the political class have rejected the popular call for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission/Tribunal in an attempt to shield electoral offenders from prosecution.
The Lagos lawyer said the request was sequel to confirmation that “hundreds of criminal elements were arrested by the police and other security agencies while attempting to disrupt the presidential/National Assembly elections held throughout the country on Saturday”.
He also noted that prior to last Saturday’s elections, “scores of other criminal suspects had been arrested during the political campaigns of the political parties for breaching the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended”.
“Going by past experience, the prosecution of the electoral offenders will be taken over by state attorneys-general, who will turn round to file nolle prosequi for the termination of the cases due to political pressure from the ruling party in each of the affected states,” he noted.
Falana argued that the suggestion by PAF to INEC to take over the prosecution of electoral offender is backed by Section 150 of the Electoral Act, 2010, which vested the commission with the powers to prosecute any person, who violates the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Like other prosecutorial agencies of the Federal Government, the INEC should request the Inspector-General of Police to deploy some trained police investigators to the Legal Department for the purpose of coordinating the investigation of the cases.
“Upon the conclusion of the investigation of the cases, INEC will proceed to file charges against the indicted electoral offenders in the appropriate courts,” he stated.
He reminded the commission that a number of young lawyers were mobilised to assist the INEC in the prosecution of the electoral offenders, who were arrested during the 2011 general election.
Although majority of the electoral offenders were successfully prosecuted, the policy did not continue due to the change in INEC leadership.
Falana, therefore, suggested that the policy be revived by the INEC without any delay.
“Otherwise, the detained armed thugs, who engaged in the cold murder of unarmed voters, ballot snatching, burning of ballot papers etc during the election will soon be freed and allowed to continue to sabotage the inchoate democratic process in the country,” he warned.