Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, while lamenting the spate of electoral violence in the country, posited that impunity makes electoral offences thrive, hence “any nation that does not punish violators is doomed.”
He stated this while interacting with media executives during a courtesy visit recently.
Professor Yakubu called for the establishment of Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal as prescribed by Justice Mohammed Uwais and Ahmed Lemu Commissions.
He stated that inconclusive elections were brought about largely by violence and that the only way to curb this spectre of violence that continues to haunt our elections is to put in place a mechanism that will punish offenders, arguing that “there are people who believe that they can do anything and get away with it.”
Even though inconclusive elections are caused by violence and over voting, Yakubu observed that they were also compounded by the recent evolution of two strong parties as opposed to the past where we had one mega party and smaller ones. The import of this evolution (of two formidable parties), Yakubu noted is that contest for political office is keener and the margin between winners and runner ups is so narrow that any incident of violence could mar the election and render it inconclusive.
To further buttress his point, he cited the instance of the last presidential election where the margin between the winner and runner up was 2.5 million and a councillorship election in Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where the winner out-best his runner up with a mere 11 votes. “The days of landslide election victory are gone, and gone for good.”
He pointed out that logistics which used to be one of the perennial Achilles heels of the commission had been addressed squarely by the creation of SUPER RACs and that the consequence of this is that INEC recorded 92 percent opening of polling units on election day in the Kogi governorship election and 100 percent in the recent Ife and Minjibir State Constituency bye-elections in Oyo and Kano States respectively.
He expressed optimism that following presentations made by the commission to the presidency, the outstanding six national commissioners and 21 Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, would soon be appointed to replace those whose tenures have lapsed. He stressed that the prerogative of nominating or appointing the commissioners was that of the president.
Professor Yakubu disclosed that thus far, not less than one 100 staff of the commission had been invited by the EFCC and that based on revelations, the number kept increasing, “so far, over a hundred staff of INEC had been invited, at a point we toyed with the idea of speaking to the EFCC to see the weight of evidence they have so that we can take administrative action,” he added.