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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

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Why We Cannot Prosecute Vote Buyers in Ekiti Elections Just Yet - INEC Tells Nigerians

» Date: August 29, 2018
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has given reasons why the Electoral Body cannot prosecute alleged Vote Buyers in the just concluded Ekiti Governorship Election.
According to INEC, the Commission has the necessary Powers to Prosecute Allegations of Vote Buying by Political Parties involved in the act (Both APC and PDP) in the Ekiti State Governorship Elections but it lacks the Powers to Arrest and Investigate the Suspects.
INEC gives reasons why Ekiti vote buyers cannot be prosecuted
We Do Not Have Powers to Arrest Vote Buyers in Ekiti Elections - INEC
This Comment is in response to an Open letter its Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, received from The Socio-Economics Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) demanding that the Electoral Body immediately investigate all Allegations of Vote Buying and other related Offences committed during the Ekiti Elections.
The Letter further suggested that the INEC should Collaborate with Other Investigating Commissions like the ICPC and the EFCC when carrying out such investigations.

SERAP further urged INEC to "Prosecute anyone suspected to be involved or in anyway connected to the alleged vote buying, if there is relevant evidence of such Electoral Bribes and abuse of the Electoral and  Democratic process.

INEC replied through a letter duly signed by its Acting Secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche who alleged that while the commissions' Official Lawyer can prosecute the Alleged Buying of Votes, that other agency like the EFCC and ICPC must first arrest and investigate suspects before the commission can prosecute.

The Commissions sited a portion of the constitution which restricts the commissions' ability to execute the requests of SERAP.
“You may also wish to note that it is not part of the constitutional duties of the Commission to arrest and investigate suspects found to have contravened provisions of the Electoral Act or any other Law for the time being in force. Section 150(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) only confers powers on Legal Officers of the Commission or any other Legal Practitioner appointed by it to undertake prosecution of offences disclosed under the Act.”
Okechukwu Ndeche reiterated that the commission will definitely partner with other agencies to Prosecute all Electoral Defaulters in every capacity.

It can be recalled that there were reports which indicate a massive and open Buying and Selling of Votes in broad daylight which has come to affect the results of the polls and there is need to investigate this issue and bring all offenders to book.