The Senate at its plenary session of Tuesday, 13 July 2021 passed the Bill seeking to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission to provide adequate restrictions and sanctions for violations of electoral laws.
Presenting the report of the Committee on INEC, the Chairman Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC: Kano) stated that electoral offences remains a significant threat to credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria and these violations consist of the inclusions of fictitious names in the register of voters and compilations of voters’ lists, unauthorized printing and possession of voters’ cards, unlawful possession of voters’ card and ballot boxes, multiple and underage voting, ballot box snatching, etc.
According to Sen. Gaya, Nigeria’s current justice system for electoral offences is weak and accounts for only few convictions. Therefore, the establishment of a National Electoral Offences Commission charged with the responsibility of investigating electoral fraud and prosecution of offenders remains critical in ensuring a decrease in electoral impunity and strengthening Nigeria’s electoral process.
Speaking on the highlights of the Bill, Sen. Gaya informed lawmakers that the Bill comprised 7 Parts and 46 Clauses as follows:
- Part 1 which deals with the Establishment of the National Electoral Offences Commission
- Part 2 which deals with the Functions of the Commission
- Part 3 which deals with Membership and Staff of the Commission
- Part 4 which deals with Electoral Offences, Fines and Penalties
- Part 5 which deals with the Jurisdiction and Special Powers of the Court
- Part 6 which deals Financial Provision
- Part 7 which deals with Miscellaneous Provisions
In his submissions, Sen. Gaya noted that the Committee had conducted its public hearing on the Bill on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 with stakeholders calling for the adoption of recommendations contained in report of the Justice Uwaise Electoral Committee, the Sheikh Nurudeen Lemu Report on Electoral Violence and the report of the 2014 Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee (CERC). He further stated that Bill if passed, will address the re-occurring cases of elections being marred by irregularities and violence.