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Falana Writes House Of Reps Speaker Over Millions Of Unprosecuted Electoral Offenders Since 2011, Requests Information On Offences Commission Bill

Falana Writes House Of Reps Speaker Over Millions Of Unprosecuted Electoral Offenders Since 2011, Requests Information On Offences Commission Bill

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, requesting information on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill passed by the Senate and forwarded to the House in July 2021.

Falana’s letter dated June 17, 2022, a soft copy of which was obtained by SaharaReporters, noted that Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is empowered to prosecute electoral offenders under section 150 of the repealed Electoral Act 2010 as amended.


However, the Commission could not discharge the statutory duty because of an alleged lack of resources, leading to its failure to prosecute one percent of the 870,000; 900,000 and 1,100,000 electoral offenders arrested during the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections respectively.

 

The legal luminary pointed out that the Senate passed the Electoral Offences Commission Bill to stem the increasing wave of electoral impunity in the country but the House of Representatives has ignored the bill since July 14, 2021, when it was forwarded to it.

 

Falana warned that if the Speaker fails or refuses to provide the information requested in the letter, “we shall not hesitate to file an application for mandamus at the Federal High Court to compel you to disclose the requested information,” as the request is made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

 

The letter read, “As you are no doubt aware, the Independent National Electoral Commission was empowered to prosecute electoral offenders under section 150 of the repealed Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

“But the INEC was unable to discharge the statutory duty due to alleged lack of wherewithal. Hence, its failure to prosecute even one per cent of the 870,000, 900,000 and 1,100,000 million electoral offenders arrested during the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections respectively.

 

“In order to stop the increasing wave of electoral impunity, the Senate passed the Electoral Offences Commission Bill on July 14, 2021, and forwarded same to the House of Representatives.

“But the Bill has been ignored due to reasons best known to the members of the House of Representatives under your watch. Hence, section 145 of the Electoral Act 2022 has vested the Independent National Electoral Commission with the statutory duty to prosecute electoral offenders in the Federal Capital Territory and the 36 States of the Federation.

 

“Even though sections 114-121 of the Electoral Act have made adequate provisions for electoral offences the Independent National Electoral Commission does not have the capacity to arrest, investigate and prosecute electoral offenders.

“In the atmosphere of official impunity, the leading members of the political class have engaged themselves in the dollarisation of the electoral process, vote-buying, intimidation of political opponents, killing and thuggery, ballot snatching, etc. 

 

“In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request the Honourable Speaker to furnish us with information on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill passed by the Senate and forwarded to the House of Representatives since July last year.

“As this request is made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 you are requested to provide the requested information within seven days of the receipt of this letter.

 

“TAKE NOTICE that if you fail or refuse to accede to our request, we shall not hesitate to file an application for mandamus at the Federal High Court to compel you to disclose the requested information.”

 

Source: Sahara Reporters.

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