By Naomi Sharang
Abuja, April 28, 2021
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has expressed confidence in the National Assembly’s ability to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu stated this at a public hearing on the ‘National Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021’ organised by the Senate Committee on INEC, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The INEC boss, who noted the importance of the bill to the 2023 general elections, said, “We are confident that the National Assembly will conclude work on the legal framework in earnest.
“In order to do so, there should be clarity and certainty about the electoral legal framework to govern the 2023 general elections.
“We are confident that the National Assembly will do the needful and do so in earnest.
“The commission is anxious to know the legal framework to govern the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“By the principle established by the Commission, the 2023 general elections will hold on Feb. 18, 2023, which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days away from today.”
Yakubu said that the Commission would release the timetable for the general elections immediately after the Anambra governorship election, scheduled to hold on Nov. 6.
On the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, Yakubu appealed to the National Assembly for its expeditious passage.
“It is not that the Commission hasn’t done much or anything about the prosecution of electoral offenders.
“Since the 2015 general elections, 124 cases have been filed in court and are being prosecuted. So far, we have only achieved 60 convictions out of the cases.
“We will like to see more prosecution of offenders, not just of ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of results of elections, but more importantly, their sponsors.
“We look forward to the day when highly-placed sponsors of thuggery, including chieftains of political parties and candidates, will be prosecuted,” he said.
Earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while opening the hearing, said that the bill would not only harmonise regulations and laws related to electoral offences, but also serve as deterrence to offenders.
Lawan, who was represented by Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Philip Aduda, said having the electoral offences commission would be a solution to ensuring diligence in the administration of electoral justice system.
While commenting on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Sen. Kabiru Gaya, said that it would be passed soon.
“The process will soon be concluded. We are presently working with stakeholders towards concluding the process and the president’s assent within this quarter,” he said.
On the electoral offences commission, Gaya said the bill provided for the commission to investigate and prosecute electoral offenders on the powers of the attorney-general and adopt measures to prevent, minimise and eradicate electoral offences.