The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will soon commence the prosecution of 1,076 electoral offenders arrested in 35 states across the country during the 2023 general election.
A credible source in the commission on Wednesday told NAN in Abuja that the prosecution would be done in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Nigeria Police.
The source explained that the NBA Chairman, Mr Yakubu Maikyau, in fulfilment of that pledge, in a recent letter to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, listed 191 lawyers including 16 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), who have accepted to take up cases in the various States free of charge.
The NBA during a recent visit to INEC led by its president pledged to offer pro-bono legal services to the commission for the prosecution of electoral offenders as a service to Nigeria.
Maikyau said that would be done with the assistance of the Police and INEC for diligent prosecution.
The source said 191 case files have been prepared for the prosecution.
A breakdown of the distribution by state reveals that Ebonyi has the highest number of 64 cases, involving 216 suspects.
Edo is second with 22 cases and 80 suspects, while Anambra is third with 12 cases involving 66 suspects.
Kaduna State is fourth with 11 cases and 36 suspects; Adamawa ranks fifth with 10 cases, 17 suspects.
Also Kano, Rivers and Osun states share the fifth position with nine cases each involving 74, 68 and 47 suspects, respectively.
Yobe has the least with just one case file implicating two suspects.
The electoral offences committed range from “culpable homicide and unlawful possession of firearms”, “snatching and destroying of INEC items”.
Others included “being in possession of offensive weapons”, “misconduct at polling units and stealing of election results”.
The Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, also confirmed that letters of authority have already been prepared and would be issued to the NBA team as soon as possible to commence proceedings on all the cases.
Rotimi, however, said that the NBA returned 26 case files to INEC for onward transmission to the Police because the offences involved did not fall under the electoral offences as defined by the Electoral Act 2022.
He said that the commission was also aware that suspects involved in 22 out of the cases are either at large or were never apprehended.
”The suspects linked to the cases files are in custody, they have been investigated and the necessary evidence against them harvested,” he stated.
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