Why election offenders must be prosecuted, by ECES
The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ado-Ekiti has granted the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, an order to check election materials and results of the just-concluded July 14, 2018 Ekiti State governorship election.
While Fayemi of the APC was declared winner of the election by the Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, after securing 197,459 votes, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and current Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, scored 178,121 votes, but opted to challenge the results at the tribunal over alleged falsification of results, ballots stuffing and snatching, among others.
Justice Suleiman Belgore, who granted the prayer to the APC candidate, said the application filed on July 31, 2018 had been granted based on the ground that the counsel is seeking the order of the court to see the documents of the election materials.
“To make photocopy of the documents of the election materials and use forensic equipment to view the handwriting of the election result, and the fingerprint of the election materials.
“Request the order of the court to obtain and photocopy all the election materials held on July 14, 2018, which is also in custody of the first respondent (PDP).
“To seek forensic experts to access both machine and other materials used in the conduct of the election in order to defend the petition of the first respondent (PDP).
“To have all the materials used in all the polling units of the election,” he said.
Belgore, therefore, said there was merit to the application as it was approved also for the first respondent, which is the Peoples Democratic Party candidate.
In another development, the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) has said that Nigeria must introduce mechanisms for prosecution of offences committed by voters, candidates and election officials to reduce controversy and contentions arising from elections.
The ECES Project Director in Nigeria, Rudolf Elbling, who spoke in Enugu yesterday during the training of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) legal officers from South-East on global best practices, stated that the perpetration of election offences undermines the smooth conduct of polls and impacts negatively on the integrity of the electoral process.
He stated that offenders needed to be punished according to the law to make the electoral process more credible.
“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-apathy and distortion of election outcomes,” he said.
Elbling said the objective of the two-day training, which was the third in the series to be organised across the six geo-political zones, was to improve the skills of INEC legal and police officers in the prosecution of election offences, adding that it was another step to improve synergies and render high quality legal services to the commission in its effort to deliver fair and credible elections in 2019 and beyond.