INEC Laments Challenges of Vote Buying, Hate Speech, and Fake News Hindering Electoral Process

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented that vote buying, hate speech, fake news, disinformation and misinformation are some of the challenges militating against its work

 

The spokesman, Rotimi Oyekunmi, while reflecting Oyekunmi, while reflecting on the conduct of elections since the return to democratic rule in 1999, told The Nation that another major challenge of the commission has been the behaviour of political parties regarding the choice of candidates for competitive offices.

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Afam Osigwe

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

 

“Electoral offenders also pose serious challenge to the Commission, hence the recommendations for the establishment of an electoral offences tribunal that will investigate and prosecute offenders”

 

He said a review of the 2015 general election revealed that some outcomes were nullified by the tribunals and appellate courts due to candidate disqualification. “It is therefore important for political parties to abide by their constitution in the conduct of primaries by entrenching the culture of internal democracy,’ Oyekunmi noted.

 

Another issue is the large number of court cases in which INEC is joined as a defendant. According to Oyekunmi, in 2016 and 2017, the Commission was involved in over 454 pr-election court cases, aside the 680 cases determined by the election petition tribunal arising from the outcome of the 2015 general election.

 

Closely related to this, Oyekunmi said, is the issue of electoral offenders and attacks on the commission’s facilities and personnel

 

He added: “Between 2019 and 2022, INEC offices and facilities suffered 50 attacks across 15 states, 20 of which were perpetrated by unknown gunmen.

 

“Although, INEC is empowered by the Electoral Act 2022 to prosecute offenders, it lacks the power to investigate or make arrests. The Commission has been cooperating with law enforcement agencies for the arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders, but efforts at mitigating electoral violence can only become effective with the arrest, prosecution and sanctioning of the sponsors and godfathers behind these crimes

 

“It is for this reason that INEC proposed the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission Tribunal which will have the responsibility of prosecuting electoral offenders to enable the Commission to focus on its core mandate of organising and implementing elections.

 

“However, despite the challenges, the commission has recorded some major improvements in the conduct of elections with the introduction of various forms of technologies such as the BIVAS and IREV, among others.”

 

Oyekunmi also spoke on steps taken by the commission to review the number of polling units from 119,974 to 176,846, thereby giving more voters access to polling units and reducing the stress associated with elections in past years.

 

 

According to him, another innovation that was introduced is the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) architecture with a dedicated portal for online registration, which was done in response to calls by stakeholders and based on the Commission’s determination to serve Nigerians better by reducing overcrowding at CVR centres

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