By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS – The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and the internatianoal human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, HRW, yesterday called on the National Assembly to pass legislation establishing a special Electoral Offences Commission to investigate and prosecute election-related abuses, to arrest immunity in the system.
In a statement, the bodies also called on the government to set a clear precedent for accountability ahead of the April 2011 elections, by prosecuting the perpetrators of recent abuses.
It noted that Nigeria had a history of violent and deeply flawed elections, which makes it necessary for the country to break with the past and to ensure that violence, intimidation, and fraud do not undermine the credibility of the upcoming elections.
According to the statement, “it’s time for Nigeria to break with the past and to ensure that violence, intimidation, and fraud don’t undermine the credibility of the upcoming elections. Setting up a properly resourced Electoral Offences Commission under strong leadership will send a clear signal to candidates and political parties that people may be held accountable for any election-related abuses, said Dafe Akpedeye, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and chairman of the Election Working Group of the Nigerian Bar Association.
They said despite the rampant violence and fraud that have characterized Nigeria’s elections, state institutions responsible for investigating and prosecuting such crimes have largely abdicated their role and, in some cases, have even been complicity in the crimes.