The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, yesterday fulfilled its promise to unveil the names of electoral officials, politicians, security personnel and others indicted for electoral offences during the 2007 and 2011 general elections in the country.
The commission, which released the names under its “Electoral Accountability Project/End Electoral Impunity Project”, indicted 66 individuals and organisations allegedly involved in electoral offences between the period under review.
They were said to have been involved in either criminal offences or administrative, judicial and professional misconduct.
Chief among those indicted are a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu; former governors Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Oserheimen Osunbor (Edo), Clarence Olafemi (Kogi), former Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Prof. C. E. Onukogu; Senator Hosea Ehinlanwo (Ondo), Senator Ayo Arise (Ekiti) and former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Mukhtari Shehu Shagari.
At the presentation of a 284-page report on the 2007 and 2011 elections in Abuja yesterday, the NHRC urged the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector-General of Police, INEC and other relevant institutions to ‘punish’ those indicted.
The report also recommended prosecution and disciplinary measures for them.
There were 118 indictments, categorised as criminal indictments (20 cases), criminal/administrative (49), administrative (38), administrative/ judicial (4), professional (3) and judicial (7).
Others indicted are the late Major Gen. Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, Aminu Sule Garo and Mr. Tarzoor Terhemen, former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly; Patrick Ashagu Ebinny named in relation to Nasarawa West state constituency election in 2007; Abubakar L. Abdullahi, the returning officer, Isuikwuato/Umunneohi Federal Constituency in 2007 elections; Felix Osaigbovo (INEC Presiding Officer) in relation to the Ovia North East 1 constituency election in Edo State in 2007; Umar Abdullahi (1st respondent in the case between Umar Ahmed Sule & another vs. Umar Abdullahi & others in petition no: GMS/EPT/HR/2/2011 in relation to the Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency election of 2011.
A police officer, ASP Christopher Oloyede and two lawyers – G. A. Adetola Kazeem (SAN), the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. James Ocholi (SAN) and Chief Adefemi Kila, were also named in the report.
Also indicted for under administrative and judicial misconduct was the Federal High Court, Abuja, which was accused of highhandedness in its handling of the case between Barrister (Mrs. Amanda Peters Pam & another v. Nasiru Mohammed & INEC reported as (2008) 16 NWLR (pt 1112) 1 SC in a judgment by Justice Goerge Oguntade of the Supreme Court.
Resident Electoral Officers in states like Ekiti, Kwara, Delta, Anambra and officials of INEC, who conducted elections in the states in 2007 and 20011, were listed in the report but were not identified by names.
The NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, while presenting the report, explained that the exercise, which was undertaken on the strength of Section 5 of the NHRC Act 2010, involved an independent review of evidence of gross violations of the rights to participate in government, to effective public service and to fair trial in the country.
He said the project was intended “to bring to account persons indicted by the election petition tribunals and appellate judicial bodies for infracting electoral and related laws during Nigeria’s recent election cycles”.
Angwe said a committee established by the commission for the project was mandated to “review available election petition cases, extract any evidence of criminal or administrative indictments, recommend immediate and long-term measures towards curbing impunity in our electoral process”.
Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Professor Nsongurua Udombana, argued that electoral malpractices persist in the nation’s electoral process because the Judiciary, INEC, and other agencies have failed to discharge their responsibilities satisfactorily.
He noted that where infraction of electoral laws were reported to the AGF and INEC, they hardly act, a development that continued to embolden politicians who see elections as “a do or die affair”.