Prosecution of electoral offenders: Organisation trains INEC legal personnel
European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), says it is training Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) legal personnel and Police officers on prosecution of electoral offenders to enhance the handling of electoral offences in Nigeria.
Mr Rudolf Elbling, the Project Coordinator, ECES Nigeria made this known on Friday in Akwanga, Nasarawa state, while addressing the INEC legal and Police officers at a two-day training workshop sponsored by the ECES.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 100 INEC legal and police officers are expected to be trained and they were drawn across the Geo-political zones of the country.
Elbling, represented by Maria Teresa Mauro, the Senior Election Expert (Legal), ECES Nigeria, said the training sought to boost the confidence of the legal officers and positively reposition them in handling of election petitions.
According to him, there is the need for a clear regulatory framework to guide every stage of the electoral process and set the rule of the game.
“In essence, the electoral legal framework must stipulate clear direction and guide what to be done, when, how and by whom.
“This training is the eight in the series of such trainings being organised for staff of legal Services Department in the last two weeks.
“Similar training were conducted in Keffi, Nasarawa State, Enugu, Ilorin and Benin City.
“The legal officers have the primary responsibilities of ensuring that elections and indeed the other activities of the commission are conducted in a way consistent with existing laws through proper interpretation and application of the rules.
“It is my hope that presentations and deliberations at this training will keep participants abreast of best global practices in electoral law and place them in a vantage position to professionally render valuable legal services to the commission,’’ he said.
Elbling also said that the centre was planning to support training of INEC legal officers and Police officers in the prosecution of election offences.
Others are organising workshop for political parties on legal framework, compilation of judicial decisions and roundtable with judges of courts in the country.
The Project Coordinator of ECES reiterated the centre’s commitment to continue to support INEC and other organisations for democratic governance in Nigeria.
Also speaking, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, the INEC National Commissioner, also the chairperson, Legal Services of the Commission, appreciated the ECES for funding the training programme.
She said that the commission was fully determined to fulfill its responsibilities in the area of prosecuting electoral offences while hoping that the Electoral Offences Commission was set up eventually.
“The idea of this training is well conceived as the interaction and dialogue between our legal officers and police will go a long way in removing some bottlenecks in the prosecution of electoral offences.
“INEC and the police must necessarily work together as envisaged by the law,” she said.
In his welcome address, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Nasarawa State, Dr Uthman Ajidagba also commended the European Centre for the training.
He added that the training was expected to produce best way forward to tackle challenges of prosecution of electoral offences in the country.
Ajidagba, represented by the Administrative Secretary, INEC Headquarters Lafia, Mr Martins Boris said, “during the training, recommendations should be made to amend the law to grant the commission power to arrest/investigate and prosecute electoral offences,” he said.
NAN reports that Mr Solomon Arase, former Inspector General of Police is among those that would present papers during the training.