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Femi Falana Commends INEC, NBA’s Move To Prosecute 1,076 Election Crime Suspects

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Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has applauded the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their planned prosecution of the 1,076 electoral offenders.

In a statement he provided to Vanguard on Thursday, Falana praised the two organisations for their planned prosecution of the individuals accused of electoral misconduct in the most recent general elections.

He emphasised that the prosecution will discourage impunity and threaten electoral integrity in Nigeria.

He stated: “The Independent National Electoral Commission is empowered by section 145 of the Electoral Act 2022 to try electoral crime suspects in a Magistrate Court or a High Court of a State in which the offence is committed, or the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“But as the INEC is completely preoccupied, it has been hampered in the prosecution of electoral offenders that have continued to subvert the democratic process.

“Happily, the Nigerian Bar Association decided to collaborate with the Independent National Electoral Commission to prosecute the election crime suspects who were arrested in all the states of the Federation during the general election held in Nigeria between February and March 2023.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigerian Bar Association deserve commendation for the proposed prosecution of the 1,076 persons indicted in electoral malpractice during the last general election. The intended prosecution will substantially dissuade impunity that threatens electoral integrity in the country.

“Indeed, the importance of the prosecution is underscored by the decision of the NBA leadership to nominate 191 lawyers, including 16 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

“Having confirmed that the INEC has given fiats to the prosecutors in accordance with the provisions of section 145(2) of the Electoral Act 2022, we call on the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies to fast-track the investigation of the suspected electoral offenders that were arrested during the recent gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo States.

“We equally appeal to all democratic forces to support the initiative and monitor the prosecution of the electoral crime suspects. It is by ensuring the successful prosecution of the electoral offenders that Nigeria can put an end to the brazen manipulation of the democratic process by members of the political class and their cohorts.

“However, since this is an ad hoc arrangement, we urge the two houses of the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act 2022 to empower the Federal Government to establish an Electoral Offences Commission to arrest, investigate and prosecute all electoral offenders in line with the recommendation of the Mohammed Uwais Electoral Reform Panel.

“The legislators should realise that unless electoral offenders are severely sanctioned, election results will continue to be determined by election petition tribunals and the courts.”