Absence Of Electoral Offences Statistics Threat To Nigeria’s Democracy –Izinyon

BY CHARLES EMENI
A LEGAL luminary, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN) has expressed regrets over the non-availability of electoral offences statistics for the prosecution of electoral offenders in Nigeria.
Dr Izinyon, who made this known in an interview during the week said that the non-availability of such statistics portend great danger, particularly for a growing democracy like ours.
Recommending that it was high time the country put in place such vital statistics, he said, any person who violates the electoral laws during and after the on-going general elections should be prosecuted.
He said, though the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had never contacted him to prosecute any electoral offender in the past, the time had come for offenders of electoral laws to be brought to book and adequate statistics of such persons kept in order to bring sanity to the system.
He said, constitutionally, the Commission may not necessarily be the complainant; section 150 of the electoral law empowers it to initiate the prosecution of electoral offenders, and to ensure that justice is done.
In addition, he said, INEC can present a list of election offences/offenders for prosecution, even though it does not have the powers to arrest, therefore it can contact the law enforcement agents and the matter will be brought to court for prosecution.
Dr Iziyon, who said, though there are electoral laws and penalties in the country it was unfortunate that from 1960 till date, there has been no political will to enforce them adding that, it is unfortunate that there had always been political connotation to anybody arrested for political offences.
“Arrest political offenders, irrespective of their political party and prosecute them and there will be sanity in the system. And the various security agencies must be alive to their duties,” he added.
He, however, commended the turnout of Nigerians during last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, saying that so far, it has been proven that the level of political consciousness was getting higher among Nigerians, irrespective of their geographical location.