The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has recommended prosecution and sanctions for the INEC officials, the Police, some individuals and some staff of local government areas for their roles in alleged electoral fraud in the 2015 general elections.
The Acting Executive Secretary of commission, Oti Ovrawah made the call on Wednesday in Abuja at a public presentation of phase two of the “End Electoral Impunity” project report.
“I am glad to inform you of completion of the project having considered the 2015 election cycle in Nigeria. In the first phase of the project, 2007 and 2011 election cycles were considered.”
She noted that there were several misconceptions about the project, as reflected in litigations against the commission arising from the report of the first phase.
According to her, we will clarify the methodology and essence of this intervention by the commission as this is necessary in view of the wrong perception that the commission reviewed judgments of court in the project.
“The commission does not have such powers neither has it exercised such.
“What the commission has done in this study is to extract verbatim, statements used by either the Election Petition Tribunal or the Court of Appeal in relation to the election petitions before them.
“These statements by the courts, where they indict either persons or institutions, were put together by the commission for onward transmission to the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, as well as the Attorneys-General of respective states.
This, she said was with the aim that they would consider with a view to further investigate or prosecute.
The NHRC boss noted that with the finalization of the report in the second phase, a follow up list of indicted persons or institutions would be transmitted to the AGF and the respective state attorneys-general for further necessary action.
In a brief presentation of the project report which was supported by the Ford Foundation, Prof. Nsongurua Udombana, the Project Chairman, noted the need for the courts to stand up to their responsibilities in curbing electoral impunity.
He said this was by referring established cases of crimes committed during elections to the appropriate authorities as enshrined in Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2010.
“In the majority of the cases reviewed, the election petition tribunals fail to exercise the powers given them in the electoral act, which is to direct the appropriate authorities to investigate and prosecute alleged electoral infractions.
In a goodwill message, Abdul Kafarati, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court noted that electoral impunity was against the tenets of democracy.
Mr Kafarati who was represented by John Tsoho said that since elections were a key component of a democracy, all must be done to eschew electoral impunity in order to enjoy a thriving democracy.
He assured that the Federal High Court would play its role sufficiently to ensure that Justice was served to electoral offenders.
Also speaking at the event, Sarah Jibril, Chairperson, Justice Must Prevail Party noted the need for all politicians to go into politics with what she referred to as “autonomous morality.”
“Autonomous morality is willingly policing oneself without being policed by the authorities,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that others indicted in the report for their role in the 2015 election include some INEC staff, ward collation officers, returning officers among others, totaling 35 indictments.
In the first phase, there were 118 indictments including Prof. Maurice Iwu, a former INEC chairman.
Others were the former governor of Delta, Emmanuel Uduaghan along with Electoral Commissioners as well as members of the Election Petition Tribunals in Ekiti, Sokoto State and Ebonyi in the 2007 polls.