The Independent National Electoral Commission is set to prosecute over 200 persons arrested for various electoral offenses during the just concluded general elections.
Already, the Nigeria Police Force has transferred over 50 case files of electoral offenses to the electoral umpire.
Giving updates on the number of case files INEC offices across the country had received from the police and how many electoral offenders had been handed over to it, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, in an exclusive interview, “The commission has received over 50 case files from the police authorities. There are over 200 accused persons set for prosecution.
“The commission has directed its Litigation and Prosecution Department to study the files and advise it on the prosecution. The department has since commenced action and as soon as it finishes, it will revert to the commission accordingly.”
On March 13, 2023, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, directed commissioners of police in charge of state commands to ensure investigation in all cases of violation of the Electoral Act during the February 25, 2023, presidential and National Assembly polls.
The IG directed them to swiftly conclude the investigation and forward the case files to INEC for prosecution.
On March 14, the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission was set up a legal team to deal with cases of electoral offenders during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls.
On March 28, Baba directed that all electoral offenses case files should be submitted to the Commissioner of Police in charge of the legal unit.
This, according to him, is to enable central collation and coordinated processing to the legal unit of INEC preparatory to the commencement of the prosecution process.
He gave an assurance that the NPF would collaborate with the INEC leadership in ensuring that all electoral offenders were expeditiously and transparently prosecuted not only in the interest of criminal justice but in furtherance of the police’s vision of sanitizing its electoral space.
Baba spoke at a meeting with strategic police managers of the NPF comprising deputy inspectors-general of police and members of the force management team, assistant inspector-general of police, commissioners of police, and other tactical commanders in Abuja.
ICPC, EFCC probe 78
In a related development, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has revealed that it is still investigating 13 suspects arrested for alleged voters’ inducement during the presidential and National Assembly, and the governorship and State Assembly elections.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had in March revealed that it was investigating 65 suspects arrested during the polls, but has yet to give details of the arrests made during the presidential election.
The spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, disclosed that the commission was still investigating the suspects during an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday.
She noted that of the 13 suspects, nine were apprehended during the presidential and National Assembly elections, while four were arrested during the governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls nationwide.
Ogugua said, “Investigations are ongoing concerning the arrested suspects. During the presidential elections, four vote buyers were arrested in Osun State with documents containing a list of names, phone numbers, and account details of persons suspected to be voters. One vote buyer was arrested in Ondo State with recharge cards worth N500 each, another vote buyer was arrested in Borno State with four PVCs, N49,000, and 20 pieces of wrappers.
“One vote buyer was arrested in Akwa Ibom State with names and account numbers of vote sellers. Two vote buyers were also arrested in Sokoto State with signed tickets to enable them to access wrappers and bags of rice after voting.
“Also, one vote buyer was arrested in Bauchi State with N2m recovered from him. He was arrested by troops of 33 Artillery Brigade and handed over to the ICPC.
“During the governorship and state Assembly elections, three vote buyers were arrested in Sokoto State with two PVCs, ATM cards, Infinix phone, and CFA228,000 recovered from them. One vote buyer was also arrested in Katsina State with an unspecified amount of money.”
The latest update concerning the arrests made by the EFCC during the elections as the Head, Media, and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, did not respond to inquiries by one of our correspondents.
However, he had in a statement in March revealed that the agency arrested 65 suspects during the governorship poll. However, the commission did not reveal the total number of arrests made during the presidential election in February.
The statement read in part, “Twenty of the suspects were arrested by operatives from the Ilorin Zonal Command, 13 suspects were arrested by the Kaduna Zonal Command and the Port Harcourt Zone arrested 12 suspects for various offenses bordering on inducing voters with money. It added that the Uyo Zonal Command arrested four in Calabar. The remaining suspects were arrested in Gombe, Sokoto, Kebbi and Niger states.”
He, however, noted that investigations were still ongoing, adding that those arrested in Kaduna State consisted of 10 males and three females, adding that investigations had so far revealed that the major modus operandi of the suspects was to give cash, transfer money, coupons and send recharge cards to eligible voters to induce them.
Uwujaren explained that the Uyo Zonal Command arrested one Esther Edem, the woman leader of a political party for Ward 11, and two others, Edet Etim and Asanwana Eyo, for alleged vote-buying in Calabar, adding that Edem was caught with account numbers and thousands of naira in an uncompleted building.
The EFCC spokesman said the 20 suspects arrested from different parts of Kwara were caught with incriminating items like cash, notebooks containing names of voters, PoS machines, mobile phones and voter cards, among others.
“Upon interrogation, some of the suspects identified themselves as party agents, while some admitted distributing money to induce voters,” Uwujaren said.
He noted that the Gombe Zonal Command arrested 10 persons and recovered 43 pieces of wrappers and N1,923,900.
The acting Commander of, the Ilorin Zonal Office, Mr. Michael Nzekwe, while parading the suspects, said, “We recovered huge sums of cash and Point of Sale machines. We are still investigating the matter. After the investigation, we will strictly follow the provisions of the law.”
The EFCC also said it had deployed 100 armed operatives to combat vote-buying in Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa states during the supplementary elections.
The Kano Zonal Commander, EFCC, Mr. Farouk Dogondaji, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Kano on Friday.
“We have deployed 20 personnel to monitor the conduct of the state Assembly elections in Kafur, Kankara in Katsina State,” he said.
He explained that adequate personnel was also deployed to monitor the exercise in Tudun Wada/Doguwa and Takai federal constituency, as well as some state Assembly elections in Kano State.
Dogondaji said other personnel was also deployed for the House of Assembly election in Katsina and Jigawa states to prevent vote-buying.
He stated, “We have also deployed officers in the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano and the metropolis to monitor the exercise.
“We will be visible in all the polling units in Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa to carefully monitor the entire exercise during and after the elections.
“We will be physically present at collection centers to prevent tampering with results from the local government areas to the state.
“We are carefully monitoring the entire exercise along with state security agencies towards providing a peaceful atmosphere for eligible voters to elect their leaders.”