Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that sponsors of electoral offenders are arrested and punished.
According to The PUNCH, this was disclosed by the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu at a retreat on the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections in Lagos on Wednesday.
Yakubu stated that the step became imperative because electoral offenders are unlikely to be candidates in such elections.
He said if the sponsors were not arrested, electoral malpractices will continue, this is as he listed some of the possible challenges of the 2023 general elections including voter population, number of polling units, security considerations and election personnel.
The INEC boss also said the commission will consult with the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee ahead of the commencement of campaigns by political parties, noting that the enormity of the elections requires extensive consultations with all stakeholders.
While saying that the arrest of sponsors of electoral offenders will help address vote buying, ballot snatching and manipulation of election results, Yakubu also made a case for the establishment of the commission and tribunal of an electoral offence, as the commission cannot arrest or prosecute offenders.
He said, “Vote buying is a violation of the Electoral Act. It is against the laws of this country. We will continue to do what we can through voter education to discourage vote buying.
“We will continue to work with anti-graft agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission to checkmate that. We will work with the security agencies to also discourage, apprehend and prosecute vote buyers at the polling units.
“We must get the actual sponsors. The person who snatches the ballot papers at the polling units, the person who falsifies election results, and the person who buys votes at the polling units is unlikely to be a candidate in the elections. If these sponsors are not arrested, the issues will continue and the best antidote is the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal.”