BY LAWRENCE ETIM.
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, last Thursday identified three key institutions, including the judiciary as masterminds of electoral impunity in the country. This decision was contained in its report on the investigation of the election petitions filed at the various election petition tribunals across the six geo-political zones.
Two other institutions indicted by the rights commission are the Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. In this report, the Commission found the three institutions in the electoral process culpable of promoting electoral offences, which are a threat to the nation’s democracy.The report which runs into 146 pages was released yesterday in Abuja.
It is entitled, “An Independent Review of Evidence of Gross Violations of the Rights to Participate in Government to Public Service and to fair trial through the Election Petition Process in Nigeria — 2007 and 2011.” And is prepared by a seven- member expert Technical Working Group, TWG, constituted by the NHRC. Nsongurua Udombana as chairman. Other members are Mohammed Akanbi, Oluyemisi Bamgbose, Ifeoma Enemo, Muhammed Ladan and Solomon Ukhuegbe.
The investigation covered the six geo-political zones, and considered 84 diverse crimes committed by individuals and institutions during the 2007 and 2011 general elections. Common crimes identified by the investigators include cases of unlawful substitution of candidates by political parties and INEC, inflation of the numbers of ballots cast, forgery of election returns, and intimidation of voters and election officials at polling centers.
On the atrocities by the police, the report also regretted the role of the Nigeria police in the elections, saying its officers also routinely commit electoral crimes. Very glaring in one case, the Election Petition Tribunal lamented that the evidence on record as per exhibit E showed that a policeman, ASP Christopher Oloyede, signed an election result sheet as party agent on behalf of the PDP.
The tribunal quoted as saying, “This is an illegality and violation of electoral rules both by INEC and the police. ASP Oloyede behaved disgracefully and abused his position. Neither INEC nor the police could defend the illegality that ought to have been sanctioned.”