INEC - ECES Training on Prosecution of Electoral Offences

INEC with Support from the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) organised a two-day training for INEC legal officers and police officers in Lagos. The training took place on 30 & 31 July 2018 at the Best Western Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos was funded by the European Union through the Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) programme.

The conduct of this training, sought to boost the confidence of the legal officers and positively reposition them in handling of election petitions and frontloading of evidence is therefore a step in the right direction. The legal officers have the primary responsibility of ensuring that elections and indeed other activities of the Commission are conducted in a way consistent with existing laws through proper interpretation and application of the rules. Presentations and deliberations at the training aimed at keeping participants abreast of best global best practices in electoral law and place them in a vantage position to professionally render valuable legal services to the Commission.

The topics addressed at the trainings are purposefully relevant to strengthening the institutional capacity of INEC to address legal issues. The presentations are Election Dispute Resolution and Best Practices, Strength and Weaknesses of the 2015 Elections from Legal perspective, potential impacts of the 2018 Electoral Act, modern drafting techniques, opinion writing and brief writing and election petitions: practice, procedure and advocacy.

This is the first in a series of trainings that will be replicated in other parts of the country. ECES plans to support trainings and workshops for political parties on legal framework, compilation of judicial decisions and roundtables with Judges of Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Federal High Court and Judges of Election Petitions Tribunal.  It is our expectation that all these support will deepen knowledge and sharpen skills on how to use law and its instruments as veritable tool for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections come 2019. 

The Chairman, INEC Legal Services, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, said even the function of prosecution of electoral offences was a burden on the commission. She explained that the commission did not have the capacity to prosecute all cases in all parts of the country at the same time. Agbamuche-Mbu said the function would be better handled by a special commission for electoral offences. She explained that a bill for the establishment of the commission was receiving attention at the National Assembly, and if eventually established, it would relieve INEC of the prosecutorial function and allow the commission to focus on its core functions. The official said the commission in the meantime would do its best to deal with the problem of electoral malpractices. “This training for our judicial officers and police officers is part of our efforts to ensure we do our best in the prosecution of cases,’’ she said. Agbamuche-Mbu urged the beneficiaries of the training to apply what they had learned to their jobs, to achieve the commission’s objective. She thanked ECES for supporting the training, urging her to sustain the partnership with INEC INEC in efforts to improve its competencies.

Participants at the event were comprised of legal officers from the headquarters and state offices of the Commission as well as police officers tasked with prosecution of electoral offences. Resource persons at the training included renowned Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Rotimi Jacobs, Prof. Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore among others.