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Buhari seeks punishment for electoral offenders

Olalekan Adetayo
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday made a case for the review of the nation’s justice administration of electoral tribunals as one of the best ways of ensuring free and fair elections in the country.

He said it was not enough for election tribunals to nullify elections and order for rerun, saying those responsible for flawed elections should no longer go unpunished.
Buhari spoke shortly after he administered oaths of office on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and five national commissioners at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The five commissioners inaugurated alongside Yakubu were Mrs. Amina Zakari, Mr. Solomon  Soyebi, Prof. Antonia  Okoosi-Simbine, Dr. Muhammed Mustafa Lecky and Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo.
The President said all those who contributed to flawed elections, whether individuals, political parties or security agents should be made to pay for their actions and inactions.
He also said those responsible for violence and thuggery during elections should not be spared because the nation would not get it right if there is any form of covering up.
Buhari said, “Another area of concern is the justice administration of the electoral tribunals. It is long overdue that our justice system addresses these shortcomings. It is not just enough for an election to be cancelled and a new one ordered. It would be much better if all whose actions or inactions led to the cancellation of such election to be investigated and if culpable prosecuted whether they are individuals as candidates or party agents, institutions such as political party, electoral body, or public officers as electoral staff or security agents.
He said since the governing All Progressives Congress had promised Nigerians change, the change should be all-embracing as far as electioneering was concerned.
He said the change starts from change of attitudes, change of work ethics, change in attitude to corruption and corrupt practices, change of party political conduct – right from primaries to the emergence of candidates and finally the conduct of elections.
The President promised to keep his promise of respecting the independence of INEC by not interfering in its activities and by encouraging the body to conduct transparently free and fair elections.
While promising to take the campaign of free and fair elections to the states, Buhari said the situation where ruling parties in the states win all local governments seats does not augur well for the country if that was not the people’s wish.