The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended some former governors, a deceased minister and other prominent Nigerians for prosecution over their roles in the conduct of the 2007 and 2011 general elections.
Among the Nigerians indicted by the NHRC in its report issued on Thursday in Abuja, are the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu; former governors of Edo and Delta States, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and Emmanuel Uduaghan, respectively; former Acting Governor of Kogi State, Clarence Obafemi and Senator Ayo Arise from Ekiti State.
Curiously, the NHRC also indicted the late Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr. James Ocholi and some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) for professional misconduct in the course of their handling of election petitions at the tribunals in 2008.
Ocholi, who was a minister in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, died in a motor accident on the Kaduna-Abuja Highway alongside his wife and first son on March 6, 2016.
NHRC in the report on ending electoral impunity indicted 118 Nigerians of committing various electoral offences during the period.
Others are INEC officials in Anambra, Ebonyi, Delta, Kastina, Kogi and Rivers States, the Appeal Court, Election Petitions Tribunals and political parties such as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP).
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Ben Angwe said those indicted will be further investigated and charged to the appropriate courts.
At the public presentation of the report, the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Prof. Bem Angwe, urged the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Mallami (SAN) to immediately commence the prosecution of the indicted persons and institutions.
Angwe said: “We hope that necessary steps will be taken to ensure that those persons or institutions indicted are held accountable for their infractions during the 2007 and 2011 election cycles. This will surely curb electoral impunity in Nigeria.”
He further noted that the project titled: “End Electoral Impunity”, is aimed at addressing electoral impunity in the Country by bringing perpetrators of violence and other election related crimes to justice.
While unveiling the 284-page report, Angwe urged Civil Society Organisations and the media to put pressure on the relevant government agencies to ensure that the culprits of electoral crimes in the report are prosecuted.
In a brief presentation of the project report which was funded by some development partners such as the Ford Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Department for International Development, the Chairman of the Technical working Group of the project, Prof. Nsongurua Udombana, explained how they originated the report.
Speaking on behalf of INEC, its National Commissioner, Mr Adedeji Shoyebi, said violence has contributed to the recent inconclusiveness of elections across the country and advocated for an electoral offences court to check the menace.