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Nigeria-Electoral Theft:Crime Without Punishment Or Perpetrator(s)

In the last few weeks,some state governors have had to vacate their offices,as a result of judicial pronouncements.These pronouncements were the culmination of appeals against the “results” of the 2007 elections,as returned by the electoral body.Begun by the “losing” parties,some these appeals have dragged on for more than three years.During that period,the beneficiaries of those “elections”,appointed by the electoral body,were in charge of the affairs of their state for which they were handsomely rewarded,in the shape salaries,allowances and other priviledges.There is a lot of talk,about not only forcing the evicted governors to regurgitate the emolument collected during their reign,but also prosecuting and jailing them.

But so far,it has been all talk and no action.In keeping with our genius for originality,we have seemingly contrived a situation where,according to the law courts,crimes have clearly been committed,victims exist,and yet there are no suspects charged with committing those crimes.Apparently,the courts have decided that neither the politicians nor electoral broke the law.If this interpretation of the situation is allowed to stand,then stealing of elections would have been given added impetus.For,it is a very good piece of business,to steal an election,occupy the office for some financially highly-rewarding years,then vacate office with your loot intact and no chance of been punished for your crime.

Expectedly,most Nigerians are unhappy about this.The view on the street is that the ex-governors should be made to return all the salaries and allowances,received while in office.My own view is that the focus on the evicted governors is a distraction.Instead,the searchlight should be on the electoral commission.In an election,the electoral officials are the guys calling the shots.While it is true that in Nigeria,elections are rigged through the unholy alliance of politicians and electoral officials,the possibility exists that,in a tight contest between two almost-equally matched aspirants,a genuine mistake on the part of the electoral officials can decide the vote against the slightly-more favoured candidate.In this case,you can not hold the politician responsible for the mistake of the electoral officials.

For me,the first line of action should be the prosecution of the electoral officials involved in any “irregular” elections.In the process of prosecuting the electoral officials,if it is determined that the politician suborned the electoral process,either by bribing/attempting to bribe or otherwise intimidate the electoral officials,then,and only then,can the politician be deemed culpable,and subjected to appropriate punishment.It is therefore very heartening to read that professor Attahiru Jega,chairman of the electoral commission,has declared that electoral officials involved in electoral malpractices,would be prosecuted.If deterrence is to be achieved,the good professor should go further,and initiate the process of  prosecuting those electoral officials who turned the 2007 elections into a mockery.

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4 responses to “Nigeria-Electoral Theft:Crime Without Punishment Or Perpetrator(s)

  1. codliveroil December 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Nice post Henry.
    Professor Jega, is only one man. He doesn’t have eyes and ears everywhere unfortunately. Rest assured not all the people working for INEC are as scrupulous and meticulous as he is. A process is what is required to ensure electoral officials are up to scratch. Not simply having faith in one man to surmount all the obstacles that lie in the path of producing a credible election, that is somewhat unrealistic.

    First things first, let him dedicate his efforts to delivering a credible election (I personally have my doubts, but I wish him the best) to a populace that doesn’t believe in order and discipline. Those who were responsible for the sabotage of the previous election should play no further role in any future ‘elections’.

    Those candidates participating should be made to realise, that they have to respect the process and abide by the results. Otherwise we end up with a situation not to different to what Ivory Coast is experiencing now.

    Political candidates and particularly their supporters and hangers-on need to display maturity, and not unleash violence if things don’t go the way they expected.

    • henryik2009 December 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

      Hi codliveroil
      Thanks for you comment.I agree with you that professor Jega is only one man.He cannot do everything by himself.He will need help.Which why i wish
      that those INEC officials who abused their positions,during the last round of elections,were punished for their actions,to sound a warning to those who
      would run the 2011 elections.

  2. codliveroil December 21, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    HenryIK
    Let me just say YES, there should be punishment for guilty INEC officials.

    But the courts and judicial system in Nigeria are not taken seriously by anyone. Evidence is required to build a case (the trail has presumably gone cold). The case has to be strong and the punishment a credible deterrent. The courts take too long and are very compromised.

    You saw they didn’t have the back bone to try Ibori, it is up the Emirates and British authorities to try him, because the Nigerian judicial system is “spineless” and riddled with corruption. He is only one individual there, Dariye a former governor of Plateau state, was caught red-handed smuggling £1 million pounds in a brief case to England.

    Given this scenario, can you expect swift and decisive punishment for the alleged offenders before the oncoming elections? I think not.

    We should concentrate on having process whereby elections can be conducted properly. So should anything happen to cause Professor Jega to withdraw, the election process can still proceed in an orderly and peaceful manner. INEC officials should be sensitised to the importance of their role and should take their responsibilities seriously, and warned of the consequences should it be shown that they deliberately. If you like re-draft a new contract for INEC’s staff.

    • henryik2009 December 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      Hi codliveroil
      Thanks for your comment.Good point about the justice-delivery system being too slow.I still think that professor Jega needs to start a process to try
      those INEC officials who abused their positions last time around.Even if the cases are not brought to a conclusion before the 2011 elections,the message
      would have been sent that electoral abuses,by INEC officials,would attract prosecution.The level of impunity in this country is such that officials believe “nothing go happen”.Contracts will not constrain them,only the knowledge that there would be payback might.

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