Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced its readiness to commence the prosecution of electoral offenders whose case files have already been prepared by the police.
Those to be prosecuted are violators of relevant electoral laws in the recently concluded 2019 general elections. The disclosure came as INEC said it was considering a proposal from Bayelsa State government to shift the November 2 governorship election in the state.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who announced these during a meeting with stakeholders from Bayelsa State, led by Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd), in Abuja yesterday, said: “Arising from the arrests made by the security agencies in the 2019 general elections, the commission will soon commence the prosecution of offenders whose case files have been prepared by the Nigeria Police.
May I also appeal to all political parties to ensure the conduct of transparent, credible and rancour-free primaries for the nomination of candidates. From the 2019 general elections, we have seen how acrimonious party primaries have been, resulting in numerous litigations and making our preparations for elections difficult.
The Bayelsa stakeholders had asked INEC to postpone the governorship election scheduled for November 2, 2019, saying the date clashed with its yearly thanksgiving service, which is backed by law. The deputy governor said the delegation comprised state government officials, the traditional council and Bayelsa State elders council, made up of all those that took part in contributing to the creation of the state and other elders that have distinguished themselves and have the love of Bayelsa state in their hearts. ‘’So, it is on this note that the Christian community approached the governor that you may reconsider the date fixed for the election. We are also concerned that if it is fixed for that day, it could possibly even affect the turn out of voters. ‘’We want every person to be in an election mood and come out to voteenmasse as required by INEC. Any other day that is fixed that will not clash with this day is good for us,” he said. Responding, Yakubu recalled that shortly after the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states in April, it received a letter from the state government asking for a shift from the November 2 election date ,saying it was the state’s Thanksgiving Day, usually a public holiday. Yakubu added that the commission would be meeting within the week to decide on the request made by the state government and announce its position on Friday. “A few weeks ago on April 9, 2019, we released the timetable and schedule of activities for Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections. ‘’The commission fixed Saturday, November 2, 2019, for the elections in the two states. Shortly after the release of the timetable, we received a letter from Bayelsa State government drawing the commission’s attention that on November 2 each year has been designated as Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State and declared work-free by an Act of the State Assembly. The State Government has appealed to the Commission to reconsider the date for this reason. The Speaker of the State Assembly, religious leaders and other stakeholders made a similar appeal to the Commission. Today, all the stakeholders are here to further reiterate their appeal. We have listened to you. At the next meeting of the Commission, your appeal will be examined and the Commission’s decision will be announced by Friday this week. “May I seize this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders in Bayelsa and Kogi States to ensure that the forthcoming Governorship elections are devoid of hate speech, intimidation of voters and INEC officials, vote buying, violence including bombing and arson that led to the destruction of election materials and INEC facilities in the last Governorship elections in the two States and other sundry violations of the law. I urge you to appeal to your supporters to ensure that the creeks and waterways, the hills and forests, urban and rural areas, the polling units and collation centres are free of thugs who unleash mayhem that turn a simple democratic process into needless bloodletting”, Yakubu added.