By Ignatius Okorocha
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Wednesday declared that the commission would release Timetable for 2023 general election shortly after the November 6,2021 governorship election in Anambra state.
This is even as he has expressed confidence in the National Assembly to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill before the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu stated this at a Public Hearing held on Tuesday in Abuja on “National Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2021” organised by Senate Committee on INEC.
The INEC boss who noted the importance of the bill to the 2023 general elections said “We are confident that the National Assembly will conclude work on the legal framework in earnest.
“In order to do so, there should be clarity and certainty about the electoral legal framework to govern the 2023 general election.
“We are confident that the national assembly will do the needful and to do so in earnest.
“The commission is anxious to know the legal framework to govern the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“By the principle established by the commission, the 2023 general elections will hold on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days away from today.”
Yakubu noted that the commission would release the Timetable for the General Elections immediately after the Anambra Governorship Election scheduled to hold on Nov. 6.
On the the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, Yakubu appealed to the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the bill.
“It is not that the commission hasn’t done much or anything about the prosecution of electoral offenders.
“Since the 2015 general elections, 124 cases have been filed in court and are being prosecuted.
“So far, we have only achieved 60 convictions out of the 124.
“We will like to see more prosecution offenders not just of ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of result of election; but most importantly, their sponsors.
“We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery including chieftains of political parties and candidates will be prosecuted.”
Declaring the hearing open, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said that the bill sought to ensure that regulations and laws related to the electoral offences were not just harmonised but they would serve as deterrence.
Lawan who was represented by Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Philip Aduda said that having the commission would be a solution to ensuring diligence in the administration of electoral justice system.
While commenting on the Electoral Act amendment bill, Chairman Senate Committee on INEC, Sen. Kabiru Gaya said that bill would passed soon.
“The process will soon be concluded. We are presently working with stakeholders toward concluding the process and the President’s assent within this quarter.”
On the Electoral Offences Commission, Gaya said that the bill provided for the Commission to investigate and prosecute electoral offenders on the powers of the Attorney-General, adopt measures to prevent, minimise and eradicate electoral offences.