Electoral Offences: NOPRIN urges INEC to file criminal charges against Okorocha, others


…calls for electoral reforms

The Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to file criminal charges against the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and others across the federation over some electoral offences they allegedly committed during the Presidential and National Assembly polls.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma who stated this in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos on the outcome of the elections noted that it is important that people go to court to challenge the process as a means to seek redress otherwise people may be force to resort to self-help in future elections if nothing happened to those who were found culpable in this election.

In his words,” In my opinion, INEC has the duty to file criminal charge against certain individuals. For instance, the Governor of Imo State who had to kidnap an electoral officer and forced him under gunpoint to announce him as the winner of a senatorial seat in the state. I think that criminal charges should be file against him so that as soon as he leaves office, he will face trial. And of course, all those security agencies that he used should also face trial.

“But I think also that in terms of going to court to challenge the process, I think it is important, people are aggrieved and the best way to seek redress is to go to court otherwise people may be force to resort to self-help or in future elections people will say since this happened and nothing happened, let us all do it and you will see that our elections will become more and more violent.

“I think that Atiku for instance should go to court. Even if he didn’t win, it may not necessarily be for the purpose of winning but the process of that case will highlight the pitfalls in this election which also for me will feed into this electoral reforms which I am talking about because usually, you find that even when there is a lead judgment in a particular election, even in the case of president Buhari when he was going to court, recall that he went to court almost three times. There was lead judgment and there was also minority judgment which highlighted some major crimes committed during the elections.

“So, this will help to highlight some of these so that they can be taken into account when we are considering some amendments into our electoral processes”.

He however pointed out that the gain that was achieved with the return of democracy in 1999 had suffered a major reversal in this election because public confidence had completely been wiped out adding that anybody who feels satisfied with this election is certainly not telling the truth but being partisan.

“For me, I think that we need to address that, we need to have a convening of Nigerians to review this election particularly role of the military so that it can help to feed into electoral reforms. We need to do more electoral reforms. What happened in this election provided further basis for us to plug the holes that allowed this to happen.

“In the first place, what INEC wanted to do with that bill that was passed which the President refused to accent to was to ensure that results are transmitted electronically direct to the collation centre so that you won’t need anybody coming physically with the result and along the road tampered with the result. So, for me, I think we need to go back there because if the president is genuinely committed to credible elections, I think he should accent to that bill before the end of this tenure.

“And I think that we need to begin to think seriously about what to do with INEC. INEC is carrying on with too many functions. For instance, how can INEC adequately address the issue of prosecution because some people need to be prosecuted for a lesson to be sent that you cannot do all this things and get away with it but INEC is overburdened?

“I think we need to unbundle INEC and people have mooted the idea, even INEC itself. They can’t be doing everything including registering political parties, monitor primaries, handle elections, deal with issue of prosecution and then setting up of special tribunal that will deal with election offences. This is importance, otherwise, there are people that we can easily mention their names who are qualified for prosecution but who is going to do that.

“For me, unless we deal with these areas, elections in Nigeria will remain what they have decided to make it to be, war rather than a civil process through which people can elect their leaders in a free and fair atmosphere”, he added.

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