The Nigerian Senate on Monday held a public hearing on the bill establishing National Electoral Offences Commission.
Senator Bala Na’Allah, representing the senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki said the bill aims “at addressing issues that are related to electoral offences as well as the adoption of measures to prevent and eradicate the same”. He further said the hearing was organised to gather the opinions of stakeholders as well as help to chat a roadmap.
“With this Bill, we will have better elections; and electoral offenders who carry out offences will not go unpunished. This would be a step forward in sanitizing our political environment
“As you know, we are focusing our attention on the modernization of our electoral system, to make the process more accountable and insulated from political influence.
“With the passage of this Bill, political thuggery, bribery, undue influence over voters, bribery for votes and other malpractices will be better curtailed
“We are determined to strengthen our electoral processes so that we can deliver credible, free and fair elections,” he said.
Also, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, said the body had prosecuted 160 electoral offenders despite
“the constraints confronting us”.
“Several case files from the Nigerian Police have been considered and we have succeeded in prosecuting the said offenders”
“In 2015 general election, INEC been dragged to court 680 times, and 400 times between January 2016 to December 2017.
“The electoral offences Bill seeks to Establish an independent commission and will address issues relating to the coordination of laws”.
Moreover, Yakubu was quoted to have asked that neither the president nor the chairman of INEC be allowed to appoint commission’s secretary when the bill becomes law.
“When passed into law, the Bill will ensure that perpetrators of electoral offences are punished and also enable us focus as an election board” Yakubu reportedly added.
Moreover, Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, reportedly deplored money-sharing to voters at polling unit, which he is hopeful the new bill will address.
The representatives of the Chief of Army Staff and the Director-general of the State Security Service were said to have applauded the bill.