Abuja – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said its decision on the Nov. 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi was not influenced by any external force.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this while responding to issues at a stakeholders’ conference organised by the commission to validate its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan in Abuja.
Yakubu said that it was untrue that INEC’s decision to allow a particular political party to contest the election without a running mate for its candidate was at the instance of Attorney-General of the Federation.
He said that the election held on a Saturday had already been declared inconclusive before the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Abubakar Audu, died on Sunday.
He explained that the commission waited for report on the situation from its Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kogi before getting into a meeting.
“We had the meeting on Monday and we looked at the laws, sought for the advice of the Legal Service Department and that of our legal consultants.
“We then took a decision on Tuesday but it came via press release which coincidentally came after the statement from the Attorney General.
“But the decision we took was actually supported by Supreme Court in its landmark judgement after the election.
“We did not take a cue from anybody in arriving at the decision that we took.
“We will never take such directive in arriving at our decision. We will take our decision and live by the consequences,’’ he said.
Yakubu pledged that the commission would continue to conduct elections in the country with courage and honour, saying “we will never let the country down.’’
On prosecution of elections offenders, he said that the commission had recorded some level of success in recent times by working with security agencies in line with its Constitutional powers.
These, according to him, include successful prosecution of 40 offenders after the disruption of the April, 2016 re-run elections in a constituency in Minjibir Local Government Area in Kano state.
The chairman added that after the 2015 general elections and re-run polls in 2016, INEC received 120 case files from the police for prosecution.
He said that 61 of the cases were successfully prosecuted as a result of the cooperation with the security agencies.
He also explained that after the Dec. 10, 2016 re-run polls in Rivers, 23 staff of the commission indicted of election malpractices were on interdiction and were being prosecuted.
Yakubu said that another 202 staff of the commission indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were also undergoing investigation.
“While we continue to do this, my position has been that it is very difficult for one to prosecute itself. INEC has been saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting election offenders but with challenges.
“One, you have to make arrest but INEC has no power to make arrest. Second, you have to investigate before prosecution; we have no power to investigate. So, how do we successfully prosecute?
“That is why I said the nation needs electoral offences tribunal to prosecute every violator of electoral Act.’’
On the commission’s collaboration with State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), the INEC chairman said that the commission gave necessary support to SEICs.
He said that 80 per cent of logistics support for local government elections in the country was from INEC. (