By Patrick Andrew
The Committee on Politics and Governance has recommended the unbundling of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into two distinct organizations to make for ease of operations.
The committee, one of the 20 committees set up by the National Conference, yesterday ratified the recommendation of its sub-committee and affirmed that the electoral umpire be broken into two with an addition body to be known as the Electoral Offences Commission (EOC).
The committee said the new body should be given the statutory responsibility of prosecuting all electoral offences in all tiers of governments. The committee believes unbundling of the umpire, which its members insisted had been buck down by cumbersome court cases, would free the INEC to concentrate solely on conducting elections.
According to them, the present INEC has been buck down by motley of electoral cases, which members say had not only impede its exercise but had greatly been responsible for the slow dispensation of electoral matters.
They claimed that several persons had been denied their mandate because the umpire could not do the needful and ensure that legal obstacles raised against real winners of elections were dismantled for them to claim their rightful mandate.
Members, who contributed, said several genuine cases had been lost because officials of INEC were too occupied with multi-cases that they were unable to be judicious in the collation of facts in support of some cases.
They also noted that INEC had been unable to expedite actions in the dispensation of justice because they had been weighed down by several electoral responsibilities and so could not concentrate on the core task of conducting credible elections.
Several members who adduced reasons to buttress the recommendations including former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, Dr. Bello Haliru, Dan Anyanwu of the Chairman of Labour Party, Justice Yerima Abdullahi, Ledum Mitee, Professor Sam Egwu, Dr. Abari, Sen. Ibrahim Idah, Mike Ahamba (SAN) and former Senate president Adulphos Wabara, all said unbundling INEC would make for ease of functions as well as addressed the lackadaisical attitude in the collation and presentation of evidences in support of genuine cases.
The former PDP boss in particular recalled several cases which the party was frustrated in its quest to contest certain results stressing that had there been a separate body charged with the responsibility of handling electoral offences some of the losses would have been cut.
Co-chairmen, Prof. Jerry Gana and Chief Olu Falae both lent their voices in support noting that a failure to create a separate body to take charge of electoral offences would aid the current practice that has contributed immensely to poor practice of democracy.
After a voice vote that overwhelming supported the recommendation, Gana read the draft thus: The INEC should be unbundled in line with the Uwais recommendation and in particular create an agency to be known as “Electoral Offences Commission”.
However, members rejected a proposal for the creation of a separate agency to be responsible for the registration of new political parties as most noted that the registration of new political parties is not a daily affair as require a distinct statutory organ to do so.