The Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended 41 persons to the Attorney General of the Federation for prosecution for their alleged violation of electoral laws and commission of other criminal offences.
Prominent among those recommended for prosecution are a former Governor of Edo State, Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor; a former Speaker of the Kogi State Governor, Clarence Olafemi; a former Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ekiti State, Mrs. Ayooka Adebayo and an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Christopher Oloyede.
Two public institutions namely; INEC and the police were also indicted in the recommendation to the AGF.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was also indicted.
Others are police officers, INEC’s officials, lawyers and politicians. They had all been indicted by various election petitions tribunals and courts.
Some of the offences with which they were indicted are forgery, perjury and breach of trust.
Copies of the judgments where they were indicted were attached to the letter to the AGF. In making the recommendations, the commission said it was exercising its power under Section 6 (1) of the NHRC Act 1995 as amended.
The recommendations followed the council’s consideration of an independent review of evidence of gross violations of rights to participate in government.
In a covering letter to the recommendations to the AGF, the council said the purpose of recommending those who had committed criminal offences during elections was to address impunity.
The letter, which was signed by the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, read: “The main objective being to address impunity by ensuring that individuals and groups indicted for various electoral offences are brought to justice to serve as a deterrent, to uphold sanctity of the ballot and to ensure greater respect for democratic values among citizens.”
The council had earlier set up a Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising academics in the field of law to carry out a holistic review of those indicted of electoral offences by the courts.
The TWG submitted its initial report wherein individuals and institutions indicted by the various election petition tribunals and courts of record were identified.
The report showed that none of those indicted had been prosecuted. The letter to the AGF further stated: “The commission therefore, in exercise of its mandate under Section 5 which empowers it to refer any matter of human rights violations requiring prosecution to the AGF or of a state, hereby respectfully forwards to the AGF list of persons and institutions indicted for various offences committed under the Electoral Act, 2006 for prosecution and further necessary actions.”
In the case of Olafemi, the report quoted the judgment of the electoral tribunal which indicted him thus: “The petitioners have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the first respondent, Olafemi, leading his agents and thugs did commit acts of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by disrupting the conduct of election, harassing and intimidating eligible voters who were sent away from polling units without voting.”
For ASP Oloyede, the Court of Appeal held thus: “The evidence on record showed that a policeman, ASP Oloyede, signed an election result sheet as party agent on behalf of the PDP.
“This is an illegality and violation of electoral rules both by INEC and the police.
“ASP Oloyede behaved disgracefully and abused his position. Neither INEC nor the police could defend the illegality that ought to have been sanctioned.”