The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has said it cannot investigate Ibrahim Mantu, a former Deputy Senate President, who recently confessed to rigging previous elections in the country in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Electoral Act (Sections 149 and 150), gives INEC powers to prosecute electoral offenders but does not give the commission the power to make arrests and investigate electoral crimes.
Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, The Director of Publicity and Voter Education, told Punch on Saturday, April 7, 2018, that “if any security agency sends a report to the commission regarding Mantu’s claim, then INEC will take action.”
When asked when INEC would take action, he said, “We are not an investigative body. We can only prosecute when investigation had been concluded.
“The security agencies have to investigate first and when they have concluded their investigation, they will send the case files to us and if there is a case that has been established, we will prosecute.”
Also, a senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Saturday, April 7, 2018, stated that the Force could not take any action against the former deputy Senate president because there was no complaint before the police about Mantu’s alleged violation of the electoral laws.
“Notwithstanding the admission of electoral crime by the former deputy Senate President, we can only investigate him if there is a formal complaint by INEC or other agencies.
“For now, we don’t regard the telecast as an admission of crime until we receive a complaint following which we would invite Mantu and interrogate him,” the senior officer had stated.
Meanwhile, a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations under the aegis of Transition Monitoring Group, has called on Nigerians to be vigilant during the 2019 general elections to avoid rigging and other forms of electoral irregularities.
The group stated this in a statement by Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, its Chairperson, on Saturday, April 7, 2018.
The statement urged Nigerians to resist any form of rigging in the forthcoming 2019 general elections to avoid a repeat of what Mantu did for the PDP in the past, based on his recent confession.
She said. “As we wait for Senator Mantu and his co-travellers in the business of election-rigging to discharge their moral burden, we call on all stakeholders to be vigilant as the 2019 electoral process shapes up.
TMG makes no mistake about the fact that there are still vestiges of die-hard election riggers, who, unlike Senator Mantu, may just not be ready to confess their infractions on the laws of the land.”