INEC in the dark about 2023 general elections legal framework, Yakubu tells National Assembly

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has raised the alarm that his Commission was in the dark about the legal framework for the 2023 general elections.

Professor Yakubu made the disclosure in his keynote address during the Senate Committee on INEC Public Hearing on National Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021 ( SB,220). The Bill was sponsored by the
trio of Senators Abubakar Kyari, Ovie Omo-Agege and Kabiru Gaya.

Tribune Online checks revealed that the establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission was part of the recommendations of Justice Mohamed Uwais Electoral Reform Committee set up 13 years ago by the late Umar Yar’Adua administration.

Restating his demand for speedy passage of the Amended Electoral Act, Professor Yakubu maintained that his Commission was being constrained to unveil its plan for the next general elections in the absence of the legal framework for the process.

He said: “We believe that the committee on INEC in the Senate is on the right trajectory by going this far on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill.

“However, while we are excited by today’s public hearing, I will like to reiterate our appeal to the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the Electoral Offences Commission Bill and the pending review of the Electoral Legal Framework generally.

“We are confident that the National Assembly will conclude work on the legal framework in earnest. The commission is anxious to know the legal framework to govern the conduct of the 2023 general elections. By the principle established by the commission, the 2023 general elections will hold on Saturday, 18 February, 2023 which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days away from today.

“We hope to release the timetable for the general elections immediately after the Anambra governorship election scheduled to hold on the 6th of November 2021.

“In order to do so, there should be clarity and certainty about the electoral legal framework to govern the 2023 general election.

“We are confident that the national assembly will do the needful and to do so in earnest.”

While lending his voice in support of the proposed National Electoral Offences Commission, the INEC Chairman said its establishment would help to mitigate threats to the electoral process by party things and their sponsors who always frustrate, free, fair and credible elections in the country.

“We will like to see more prosecution offenders not just of ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of a result of the election. But most importantly, their sponsors. We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery including chieftains of political parties and candidates will be prosecuted.

“By doing so, we believe that we will send an even bigger message.”

In his welcome address, Senator Kabiru Gaya who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC said the Electoral Offences Commission was necessary to clear doubts in the minds of those who thrive on perpetuating electoral violence and fraud.

“You will agree with me that between the 1999 and 2019 elections we witnessed an unprecedented geometric increase in a sequence of disruption in elections and electoral violence across the country, an increase which unfortunately does not correspond with the number of prosecutions and convictions of Electoral Offenders, in fact, some cases were never prosecuted.

“The initiative by a member of our Committee to move this bill will no doubt change the narrative of our electoral process, a process which is conditioned by a situation where violators of Electoral Laws over the years are not deterred neither have they been effectively prosecuted.

“The bill provides for the Commission to investigate and prosecute electoral offenders on the powers of the Attorney General, adopt measures to prevent, minimize and eradicate electoral offences.”
Senator Gaya also disabused the minds of Nigerians that the Parliament would not redeem its pledge to pass the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment by the first quarter of this year.

“There have been a lot of controversies in the news lately, that some of the recommendations submitted to the Joint Committee of the National Assembly on INEC and Electoral Matters have not been considered, Iet me clarify here that every memorandum on the Electoral Bill 2021 has gone through a joint technical Committee and the representative to draw a conclusion to the process and seek the President’s assent within this quarter.”

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INEC in the dark about 2023 general elections legal framework, Yakubu tells National Assembly

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