The Independent National Electoral Commission, has cautioned its personnel against engaging in activities that could undermine free, fair and credible conduct of the Governorship and State Assembly election, saying anyone found culpable face prosecution and committed to prison.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Benue State, Prof. Sam Egwu gave this admonition on Thursday in a statement issued in Makurdi.
He noted that the Commission had perceived that some of the adhoc staff were working with politicians to manipulate the outcome of elections and would not tolerate such unacceptable conduct.
According to the statement, “The Commission in Benue State is deeply troubled by the widely shared perception that some persons appointed as ad hoc staff in positions such as Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs}, Collation Officers (COs) and polling level staff (Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers) work at the behest of politicians with the aim of influencing outcome of elections. The Commission frowns at the conduct of ad hoc staff who deliberately seek to undermine the credibility of election.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 120 of the 2022 Electoral Act provides that officers on election duty who, without lawful excuse, commit acts or omit to act in breach of official duty for which they have sworn to an oath of neutrality will be prosecuted, and, if convicted, shall be imprisoned. This applies to all the adhoc mentioned above. The term of imprisonment is three years for Collation officers and 12 months for presiding officers and other polling level staff.
“It is important to note that the section equally applies to political parties and their party agents who conspire to make false declaration of results or publish any election results other than the one announced by the Commission.
“Meanwhile, the Commission would like to commend the Nigeria Police for promptly completing investigations into alleged electoral offences committed by some persons during the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Benue State.”