An official of the European Union support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN), Rudolf Elbling has identified election offences as threat to the smooth conduct of elections and integrity of electoral process.
Elbling, who is the Project Coordinator of the European Center for Electoral Support (ECES), Nigeria made this known on Thursday in Ilorin while speaking at a workshop organised for INEC and police.
The Workshop was a two- day training of INEC legal and Police officers on prosecution of electoral offences.
Elbling, represented by Maria Theresa, ECES Senior Legal Expert said election offences constitute a violation of the laws and regulations guiding the conduct of the elections.
“Election offences may lead to the disruption of elections, sometimes destruction of election materials and so forth,” Elbling added.
The project coordinator was of the view that election offences can degenerate to the point of constitute a threat to the security of voters and election personnel.
“The perpetration of election offences contributes to voter and distortion of election outcomes.
“Therefore, clear and properly understood and followed mechanisms for prosecution of election offences committed by voters, candidates and election officials are necessary to render the electoral process the less controversial and contentious possible,” Elbling said.
He declared that offenders should be punished according to the law to make electoral process more credible.
He noted that the training was the second edition of the training of INEC legal and Police Officers organised by INEC with support from ECES within the context Component One of EU-SDGN.
According to him, the training was coming after the conclusion of the training of INEC legal offices on Global Best Practices in Keffi, Benin, Kaduna, and Lagos.
“This training represents another step towards improving the competence and skills of INEC Legal Officers and Police officers to harmonise synergies and render high quality legal services to the Commission in its effort to deliver free, fair and credible elections ahead of 2019 General Elections,” he added.
Elbling therefore expressed the commitment of ECES to continue to support INEC in fostering its competence on legal issues.
He added that ECES would also hold workshop with judges of the Court of Appeal and Election Petition Tribunals and capacity building of stakeholders.
In his welcome address, INEC Residence Commissioner (REC), Mallam Garba Attahiru Madami said the training would sensitise legal officers and Police officers on the in-efficiency of the criminal investigation machinery in Nigeria.
The REC said the training is expected to offer recommendations on how to overcome the hurdles of delay outcome of investigation conducted by relevant security agencies during elections.
Madami appealed to the participants to come up with recommendation to empower the Commission to prosecute Electoral offenders in a professional manner as contained in the relevant portions of the Laws.
This, the REC said would go a long way in removing doubts as to the willingness of the Commission to prosecute Electoral offenders.
The training was attended by INEC legal officers and head of police Legal unit from Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Nasarawa States and FCT