INEC to mobilise lawyers for 197 offenders’ trial


The Independent National Electoral Commission will this week issue letters to Nigerian Bar Association lawyers to commence the prosecution of offenders arrested during the last general elections in February and March.

A top official of the electoral body said on Monday that the issuance of the letter was slightly delayed by the off-cycle governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States at the weekend.

With the elections over, the official, who preferred anonymity, said the prosecutors should get their letters.

It was reported that months after the general elections, INEC had yet to commence the prosecution of the offenders in the 215 case files handed over to it by the police.

The commission announced that it would speedily prosecute the suspects, saying it had secured the partnership of the NBA to nominate lawyers who would prosecute the offenders on pro bono or free of charge

INEC, however, said last week that after analysing the 215 case files it received from the police, it realised that only 197 falls under electoral offences, while the remaining 18 bordered on other crimes, such as murder, which it has no jurisdiction to try.

Giving an update on the issue on Monday, the top INEC official said that the lawyers should have got letters to prosecute the offenders but for Saturday’s off-cycle polls.

He said, “Well, because of the off-cycle elections that took place in the Kogi, Bayelsa and Kogi States, the officer who is supposed to correct some of the letters travelled to one of the states (Imo State).

“Hopefully, the letter will be issued to the lawyers this week.”

When asked if the electoral offenders are on bail or in custody, he noted “I believe they are on bail but they can be brought to their various courts through their respective sureties when the prosecutions commence.”