…Clarifies position on withdrawal of Oby Ezekwesili
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday re-echoed its call for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and the Electoral Offences Tribunal to be vested with the responsibility of arresting, investigating and prosecuting electoral offenders.
The INEC National Commissioner in-charge of Anambra, Enugu and Benue States, Barr. Festus Okoye who repeated the call during a one day sensitization forum for the media practitioners in Awka, Anambra State stated that the call had become necessary as it was increasingly becoming obvious that INEC had a lot in its hands already that it lacked the capacity to handle the issue of arrest, investigation as well as prosecution of electoral offenders.
Okoye argued that the commission and the tribunal when established would serve as a deterrent and would break the cycle of impunity that was taking hold of the electoral space.
According to him,” INEC is not vested with the power of arrest; INEC is not vested with the power of litigation but INEC is vested with power of prosecution. You must first of all arrest, you must first of all investigate before INEC will prosecute. Even this prosecution thing, we said that we don’t have the capacity to prosecute.
“We have made it clear, we have gone to the Senate, we went to the House of Representatives and say, create a separate commission to deal with electoral offenses, we don’t time, we don’t have capacity, allow us to concentrate on the issue of organizing election, remove this thing from us and they have refused.
“So, if somebody says im no get power, im no get resources to do something and you are insisting that the person must do that thing, will the person do it right? We said we don’t have the capacity. So, some of these things are there but we have to face other challenges because the time you need to do all this thing is simply not there.
“So, we are canvassing that we should create an Electoral Offenses Commission and an electoral Offenses Tribunal that will deal, from the beginning, with the issue of arrest, with the issue of investigation and with the issue of prosecution of electoral offenders. So, if we do that, I am sure that it will serve as deterrent and will break this cycle of impunity that is taking hold of the electoral space”.
On the withdrawal of Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili from the Presidential race, Okoye who is also the Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the commission said,” this Oby quitting is a none issue. Every political party, every candidate ought to be aware of the law. It is fear. The period for the nomination of candidates is there, the timetable and schedule of activities that we are using, we released it on the 9th day of January, 2018, a year ago, with timeline for nomination, the timeline for substitution and she is aware, she did not withdraw within the period allowed for withdrawal. The situation is that whether she likes it or not, her name will be on the ballot on the election day.
“The only condition for which a political party can be allowed to put somebody else on the ballot is through death. If a nominated candidate dies, the political party that nominated the candidate will be allowed to replace but so long as you remain alive, you must contest this election. On that day, if she has one vote, one vote will be recorded for her, if she has zero vwote, it will be recorded for her, if she wins the election, if she did not present herself to be sworn in, that will be her business”.
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