A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana (SAN) has written to the House of Representatives, demanding information on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill passed by the Senate last year and sent to the House for concurrence.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, who presented the report on July 13, 2021 had said the bill became necessary in view of INEC’s inability to prosecute electoral offenders in accordance with the provisions of sections149 and 150(2) of the Electoral Act (as Amended).
In the letter, dated June 17, 2022 and addressed to the Speaker Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Falana noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission was empowered to prosecute electoral offenders under section 150 of the repealed Electoral Act 2010 as amended, but was unable to discharge the statutory duty due to alleged lack of wherewithal.
He recalled that the Bill which was passed by the Senate last year and forwarded to the House has been ignored due to reasons best known to the members of the House of Representatives.
He therefore urged Gbajabiamila to furnish him with information on the Bill or else he will be compelled to file an application for mandamus at the Federal High Court to compel him to disclose the requested information.
The letter read in part, “Hence, its failure to prosecute even one per cent of the 870,000, 900,000 and 1,100,000 million electoral offenders arrested during the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections respectively. In order to stop the increasing wave of electoral impunity the Senate passed the Electoral offences Commission Bill on July 14, 2021 and forwarded same to the House of Representatives. But the Bill has been ignored due to reasons best known to the members of the House of Representatives under your watch. Hence, section 145 of the Electoral Act 2022 has vested the Independent National Electoral Commission with the statutory duty to prosecute electoral offenders in the Federal CapitalTerritory and the 36 States of the Federation.
“Even though sections 114-121 of the Electoral Act have made adequate provisions for electoral offences the Independent National Electoral Commission does not have the capacity to arrest, investigate and prosecute electoral offenders. In the atmosphere of official impunity the leading members of the political class have engaged themselves in the dollarisation of the electoral process, vote buying, intimidation of political opponents,killing and thuggery, ballot snatching e.t.c. In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to request the Speaker to furnish us with information on the Electoral Offences Commission Bill passed by the Senate and forwarded to the House of Representatives since July last year. As this request is made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 you are requested to provide the requested information within seven days of the receipt of this letter. TAKE NOTICE that if you fail or refuse to accede to our request we shall not hesitate to file an application for mandamus at the Federal High Court to Compel you to disclose the requested information.”