Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has urged the National Assembly to expedite action to pass the electoral offences bill currently before it to help in ensuring credible poll in the coming 2023 general election.
The INEC national commissioner in charge of publicity and voter education, Festus Okoye also urged the National Assembly to pass a bill for the establishment of mobile courts to conduct on-the-spot trial of any person who committed electoral offence during the general election.
Okoye who spoke during an interactive session with newsmen weekend at the INEC state headquarters, Awka, Anambra state promised that the Commission was ready to give the nation the most credible, free and fair election ever had in the country in 2023.
He stated that the commission had already perfected a programme to give proper training to all polling officials and operative of the security agencies including the police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, Directorate of the State Security, DSS, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on what constitutes electoral offences ahead of the polls to ensure that no electoral offender escaped the wrath of the law.
The INEC spokesman stated that in the coming general election, polling units officials would be empowered under the proposed electoral offences bill to order security operatives in their respective polling units to arrest anyone found to have committed electoral offence while security operatives attached to polling units would as well have power to arrest any person who flaunted electoral law and take the person to the court for trial and sentenced accordingly.
He stated that the continuous voter registration, CVR, exercise would not be extended beyond the current deadline so as to enable the commission process the voters register and comply with the display of same at the 774 local governments and 8,809 poling units across the nation ahead of the 2023 polls within the period stipulated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act.
He described “vote buying and trading” as the greatest challenge that could mare the credibility of the out come of the coming general elections, but assured that the commission had perfected plans to ensure that only eligible voters who put up physical appearance at the polling units and were authenticated by the Biometric Voters System, BVAS, machine as the actual owner of the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVC, they possessed would be allowed to cast votes.
He commended community and church leaders, presidents-general of town unions in Anambra state, as well as, traditional rulers in Anambra state for the support the gave the the commission’s staff members during the CVR exercise.