The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has revealed ongoing investigations into electoral offenses and the prosecution of those involved. He mentioned that the commission has received case files from the Nigeria Police and is collaborating with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to prosecute the alleged offenders. Yakubu further highlighted the involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) in prosecuting cases related to vote buying and associated violations.
Addressing Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at a meeting in Abuja to reflect on the recently concluded 2023 general election, Yakubu acknowledged the challenges faced during the electoral process. He stated that compared to previous elections, the 2023 polls were meticulously prepared over a four-year period, taking into account lessons learned from past experiences.
Yakubu explained that the commission had chosen not to engage in immediate commentaries on the election, preferring to listen, learn, and conduct its own review of the process. He cited the need to avoid pre-empting the review and to ensure the commission is not perceived as defensive or justificatory. Additionally, he mentioned that several issues surrounding the election are sub-judice, and the commission does not intend to undermine or promote the chances of litigants in election petition courts.
Despite the challenges faced, including security, currency, and fuel issues, as well as attacks on personnel and facilities, Yakubu noted that the elections were largely peaceful. The use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation was highly successful, with a 98% success rate compared to the 29.2% recorded in the 2019 General Election using the Smart Card Reader.
The chairman emphasized that the 2023 election, regardless of diverse opinions on its outcome, reflected the complexity of a multi-party democracy. He highlighted the diverse outcomes of the election, with multiple political parties winning seats at various levels of government, indicating a shift from single-party dominance. Yakubu emphasized the importance of addressing the challenges faced during the election process and committed to conducting post-election reviews and engaging with stakeholders to gather feedback and insights.
Yakubu expressed the hope for continued support from stakeholders to improve the electoral process in Nigeria. He acknowledged the upcoming challenges with bye-elections and off-cycle Governorship elections in several states and commended the Resident Electoral Commissioners for their performance during the general election, urging them to remain loyal to their oath of office.