The Independent National Electoral Commission has stated its resolve to go after those who sponsor electoral offenders in the country.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this in his opening remarks at a retreat on the Ekiti and Osun off-cycle governorship elections in Lagos on Wednesday.
Yakubu said the step became necessary because those who snatch ballot boxes or falsify election results are unlikely to be candidates in such elections.
He said if the sponsors were not arrested, electoral malpractices will continue, this is as he listed some of the possible challenges of the 2023 general elections to include voter population, number of polling units, security considerations and election personnel.
The INEC boss also said the commission will consult with the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee ahead of the commencement of campaigns by political parties, noting that the enormity of the elections requires extensive consultations with all stakeholders.
While saying that the arrest of sponsors of electoral offenders will help address vote buying, ballot snatching and manipulation of election results, Yakubu also made a case for the establishment of an electoral offences commission and tribunal, as the commission cannot arrest or prosecute offenders.
He said, “Vote buying is a violation of the Electoral Act. It is against the laws of this country. We will continue to do what we can through voter education to discourage vote buying.
“We will continue to work with anti-graft agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission to checkmate that. We will work with the security agencies to also discourage, apprehend and prosecute vote buyers at the polling units.
“We must get the actual sponsors. The person who snatches the ballot papers at the polling units, the person who falsifies election results, and the person who buys votes at the polling units is unlikely to be a candidate in the elections. If these sponsors are not arrested, the issues will continue and the best antidote is the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal.”