The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) yesterday in Ilorin canvassed proper punishment for electoral offenders as a precursor to credible election in Nigeria.
The ECES said post election crises are more prevalent in Nigeria due to the alleged lacuna in the electoral laws and lack of the will to enforce the relevant laws and rules on electoral offenders.
The proposition is coming at a time when national debate is ongoing for the establishment of the Election Offences Prosecution Commission or Establishment of Offence Prosecution Unit.
According to the Project Director of the ECES, Rudolf Elbling on the occasion of the training of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) legal and Police officers on prosecution of election offences, “offenders need to be punished according to the law to make electoral process ever more credible.”
She added, “the perpetration of election offences undermines the smooth conduct of the elections and has an impact on the integrity of the electoral process. Election offences constitute a violation of the laws and regulations guiding the conduct of the elections, thus they may lead to the disruption of elections, sometimes destruction of election materials and so forth.
“They can degenerate to the point of constituting a threat to the security of voters and election personnel. The perpetration of election offences contributes to voter and distortion of election outcomes.”
Officers at the conference came from all the states within the North Central geo political zone.
Elbling said the training modules would majorly be on mechanisms for prosecution of election offences committed by voters towards rendering the electoral process the less controversial and contentious.
These include: overview of electoral offences and challenges of prosecution of election offences in Nigeria, investigation, framing of charges and arraignment of electoral offenders, evidence gathering and Identification of Material Witnesses and Impact of Administration of Criminal Justice Act on Election Prosecution.
Earlier, she disclosed that the organisation had concluded training for the officers on Global Best Practices in Keffi, Benin, Kaduna and Lagos.