Expect electoral offences commission before 2023 elections, Senate President assures Nigerians

The Ninth National Assembly is determined to collaborate with the nation’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanitise the electoral process.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, gave the assurance, on Tuesday, in Abuja shortly after delivering a lecture on the occasion of National Defence College Course 29 Programme

Speaking with newsmen, Senator Lawan said the Electoral Act under amendment by the National Assembly would create an Electoral Offences Commission where those found guilty for electoral fraud would be tried and prosecuted.

The President of the Senate said he was convinced that a separate commission to deal with electoral offenders would go a long way to deter violence during the election and ultimately, add credibility to the electoral process in the country.

He said: “Let me give some commendation to the National Assembly for continuously working on the Electoral Act to provide for a better Electoral environment in Nigeria.

“All the improvement we have added was as a result of legislation passed by the National Assembly, and of course, supported by the Executive.

“This is going to be a continuous effort because electoral violence is largely a product of either genuine or misinformation of iniquity or some kind of conspiracy against certain persons during elections.

“But I also believe – and that is the position of the National Assembly generally – that we should have the Electoral Offences Commission so that people who are involved in electoral violence will be prosecuted.

“I believe that it will go a long way in reducing and minimising of all these tendencies of people taking the laws into their hands.

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“But in addition, we are currently working on the Electoral Act, we want to amend it and we intend to achieve the amendment before June or thereabout.

“Our intention in the National Assembly with this is to further sanitise the electoral environment, and empower the election management body – INEC – to conduct seamless, transparent and very open sort of election where a winner is very happy that he is a winner and a loser will be glad that he lost in a very fair contest.

“So, we are working on this and we hope that the 2023 general elections will see less of electoral violence because the law itself would have been further improved.”

While delivering his lecture, he noted that primordial sentiment was a big encumbrance to public office holders in the discharge of their functions.

Senator Lawan, therefore, admonished his colleagues in public office to rise above religious and ethnic sentiments in the larger goal of what he called national interest.

“For us particularly in this country, strategic political leadership is imperative for development. You can’t but deploy it, and leaders must be strategic. And, it is required even more in countries like ours where the challenges of development are most.

“Unfortunately, almost every issue you bring in Nigeria would rather have or would be given either political, ethnic, geopolitical or religious colouration.

“So, it makes governance tough. It gives leadership massive challenges because such colourations complicate the issues.

“Issues that could easily be relative and understood with little effort become so enmeshed in controversies that it may take you time to recover, and probably you may not even recover at all.

“This is an opportunity for me to appeal to all of us in political leadership that our responsibility to the people of Nigeria must remain the one and only critical factor for taking decisions.

“The national interest must override any other interest because it is the interest of the majority of the people of the country. If we do that, chances are that we will always get it right.

“I think it will be unpardonable for anyone to think that you can create controversies around the government’s development programmes or projects. Let there be progressive and positive criticisms,” he said.

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Expect electoral offences commission before 2023 elections, Senate President assures Nigerians

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