Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced a bid to prosecute roughly one million people found to have violated the rules of the 2011 elections, a step that could set a historic precedent in a nation notorious for allowing electoral fraud to go unpunished.
"This planned prosecution will demonstrate to all future electoral offenders that the commission has the capability to detect anybody who engages in multiple registrations in the forthcoming voters' registration," Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary for INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega, told the Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
Idowu confirmed that well over 870,000 people had been found to have committed offences related to multiple registrations or multiple voting with the aid of electronic software, both considered grave offences punishable under the country's 2010 electoral law.
He added that the prosecution would commence this week in Nigeria's southeastern Anambra state, which has the highest number of electoral offenders, estimated at 93,000.
Chukwuemeka Onukaogu, the state's INEC commissioner, told a press briefing late Saturday that the commission was filing charges against 93,000 voters.
He said police authorities had been given particulars regarding some of the voters, who had registered more than once in the last registration exercise in 2010. He added that they would be arrested and taken to court this week.
Onukaogu explained that some of them had registered up to four times each, often disguised in costumes associated with Nigeria's different ethnic groups in a bid to escape detection.
He stressed that the data-capturing system used by the INEC had been able to detect the multiple registrations and fish out the culprits.
Nigeria had roughly 70 million registered voters in 2011.
If the prosecution succeeds, it would represent the first time for Nigeria to punish electoral fraud, even though its political history is rife with examples of the phenomenon, dating all the way back to the country's first post-independence election in 1963.
The problem has worsened since the country returned to democracy in 1999 after decades of military rule, with its 2007 election deemed by international election observers as the worst ever in any human community.
The names of world renowned sports figures -- including American boxer Mike Tyson -- were found in the voter's register in Nigeria’s general election, sparking outrage across the political spectrum and leading to the nullification of several mandates.
Onukaogu, Anambra State's resident electoral commissioner, said defects in previous voter registrations had been corrected. He said the story would be different in 2015, when Nigeria holds presidential, parliamentary and governorship elections in 32 out of 36 states.
"In 2015, we will have machines that will display the biometrics of voters," he asserted. "And it will declare loudly which people are qualified to vote or are not qualified to vote."
The INEC is due to commence fresh voter registration procedures to enable those who are under 18 -- who were not registered in 2011 -- to register.
Voter registration will begin on Monday in the southeastern Anambra State, which is slated to hold gubernatorial elections on November 16.
Apart from Anambra, gubernatorial polls are also due to be held in the two southwestern states of Osun and Ekiti in 2014.
AAGüncelleme Tarihi: 18 Ağustos 2013, 17:03