The Nigerian police have said they arrested 781 alleged electoral offenders across the country during the 2023 general election.
Development Diaries reports that the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Usman, said this during a meeting with Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), commissioners of police (CPs) and other tactical commanders in Abuja.
According to the IGP, there would be an effective collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expeditiously and transparently prosecute the 781 electoral offenders apprehended from a total of 489 major electoral infractions across the nation.
He said, ‘All commands were tasked with submitting case files centrally at the electoral offences desk at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for coordinated processing to INEC legal section’.
The March 18 governorship and state legislative elections were marred by several incidences of violence and suppression of voters.
Many election observers condemned the polls over widespread violence and electoral irregularities that accompanied the process.
Usually, after elections are concluded, no one gets to hear of electoral offenders who were prosecuted for the crimes they committed. As a result, further violence is recorded in the next election cycle and it goes on and on.
Unless those who commit electoral fraud, disrupt the process, harass, and kill voters are jailed in Nigeria, politicians will continue to commit electoral violence through the use of their thugs.
It is not enough for the Nigerian police to make statements on a particular number of persons arrested in connection with electoral violence.
What are the electoral offences?
The IGP in his speech failed to point out to Nigerians what exact electoral offences were committed by the offenders.
Sections 125–128 of the Electoral Act 2022 highlight the various electoral offences ranging from snatching or destruction of election materials, dereliction of duty and false result, threatening, undue influence, disorderly conduct at elections, voting by unregistered persons, wrongful voting and false statements, bribery and conspiracy (vote buying).
The Act further provides punishments for various offences as listed, from N100,000 to N1,000 000 fine, and or imprisonment.
Development Diaries calls on the IGP or the police to explicitly state the electoral offences committed according to these sections of the electoral law.
We also urge INEC to work in tandem with the police and abide by the provisions of the law in providing punishment for electoral offenders.
Like the police have promised to do, we urge that the prosecution of these electoral offenders is transparent.
Photo source: Vanguard