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    INEC delays trial of 197 electoral offenders

    The Independent National Electoral Commission is yet to prosecute 197 electoral offenders months after the 2023 general elections.

    Back in May, the commission announced its intention to prosecute the 215 case files it received out of the 774 individuals arrested by the Nigeria Police Force for various electoral offenses during the 2023 polls.

    The commission said it was partnering with the Nigerian Bar Association, which offered pro bono legal services for the effective prosecution of the electoral offenders arrested during the 2023 general elections.

    However, an anonymous INEC official told Punch that out of the 215 files received, 197 cases involving electoral offences would be handled by INEC and the NBA.

    Among the grounds for arrest were dereliction of duty, criminal conspiracy, disorderly conduct, possession of weapons, destruction of election materials, political thuggery, electoral violence, ballot box snatching, and stealing of sensitive election materials.

    The insider clarified that the remaining 18 case files, including murder, were returned to the police as they did not fall under electoral offences.

    The source told the publication; “There are 197 NBA lawyers handling the 197 electoral offenders’ cases.

    “The remaining 18 cases were returned to the police because they did not fall squarely under electoral offences provided by the Electoral Act, 2022.”

    The official also noted that about 19 cases that relate to financial crimes would be handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission legal officers and that of INEC.

    He stated, “These 19 cases were investigated and compiled by the EFCC. They are not part of the cases forwarded by the police.

    “The commission has only one case file forwarded to INEC by the ICPC.”

    He further admitted that the INEC had yet to commence prosecution as the members of the NBA appointed to handle these electoral offences were yet to be issued letters of instruction by the commission.

    He said; “The commission is yet to commence prosecution. It is hoped that the letters initiating the NBA lawyers to start the prosecution would be issued this week.”

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