Friday, 26 August 2016

Ex-INEC Boss, others to be Punished for Electoral Fraud



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Details of the specific electoral offences committed by top Nigerian politicians and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission and why the National Human Rights Commission recommended both criminal and administrative sanctions against the culprits, have emerged.

A full report of the 284-page report exclusively obtained by news48hour.com showed that most of the political actors were indicted for using thugs to disrupt the 2007 and 2011 polls while top INEC officials were reprimanded for aiding and abetting the corrupt politicians to get into office by cheating during the polls.

The report clearly showed that while top INEC officials added underserved votes for preferred politicians, others denied aggrieved candidates access to electoral materials to be able to challenge their opponents all in a bid for them to achieve predetermined outcome for their ‘anointed’ candidates.

In the case of Professor Maurice Iwu, the former National Chairman of the INEC, the report has recommended that an administrative punishment be meted out to him for not making relevant electoral materials available to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to challenge the declaration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua as President in 2007.

Iwu was indicted in the judgment delivered by Justice Niki Toby, who noted that it was wrong for INEC to have denied Atiku access to relevant materials on the excuse that doing so would delay the speedy determination of the case, thereby denying the former Vice president fair hearing.

Justice Niki Toby recommended that Iwu should be made to answer 27 questions on why he prevented Atiku from getting fair hearing on the altar of speedy determination of the YarÁdua case.

Atiku had challenged the emergence of YarÁdua as the president and approached the Appeal Court to set aside the declaration based on observed anomalies but was prevented from getting the required support from the INEC, a development the Supreme Court frowned at.

Toby said in his final judgment: “Courts of law cannot sacrifice the constitutional principle of fair hearing on the altar of speedy hearing of cases when the content of speedy hearing is not in consonance with fair hearing in the sense of availing the parties, as in the instant appeal, the right to administer interrogatories.

“A party that is entitled to interrogatories and is denied that right, is denied the right to fair hearing. In the instant case, the appeal court was wrong in rejecting the application by Atiku to administer interrogatories on the ground that it would impede speedy trial of the case. Accordinly, I am of the firm view that Prof Maurice Iwu should answer the 27 questions posed for determination,” the judge ruled.

IN another controversial decision taken by the INEC in respect of the governorship tussle between Alhaji Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi and former Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, the NHRC report descended heavily on INEC as being irresponsible and willing to do the bidding of certain politicians to pervert the course of justice.

It recommended that the officials of INEC who perpetrated the miscarriage of justice in Sokoto must be produced and punished by the commission.

“It said, “The officers of INEC have in this case portrayed the commission as an irresponsible organisation which is ready to perpetrate illegality and scuttle the nascent democracy for whatever reason best known to them. It is very clear from the circumstances of this case that the INEC was working with gloves in hand with some political parties in Sokoto to pervert the cause of justice.

The electorates are taken for granted and this is very unfortunate,” the Supreme Court ruled. In another case, the report asked the Inspector General of Police to produce a riot policeman, who shot and killed three persons on the Election Day at Ward 6 and 7 in Ogume in Delta State during House of Representative election between Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai and another in 2011. The policeman, whose name was not listed in the report, according to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Prof Bem Angwe, are to be fished out by the IGP for prosecution for killing innocent Nigerians instead of protecting them on the election day. Prof Angwe said that the commission was ready to go all out to ensure that the recommendations of the report supported by international development agencies like Ford Foundation, DfID and OSIWA, was fully implemented to reduce the incidence of electoral malpractices in future polls. Most of the offences, which are criminal in nature, are being referred to the Attorney General of the Federation for prosecution while the administrative ones are to be handled by the INEC and other agencies of the administration.

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