Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Rivers rerun: 23 INEC staff appear in court for trial

The federal government on Tuesday presented 23 staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for arraignment for alleged misconduct during the December 10, 2016 parliamentary rerun election in Rivers State. The election for state and federal lawmakers was marred by violence and resulted in the death of at least two police officers. The INEC officials are accused of receiving bribes and taking part in efforts to manipulate the outcome of the polls. An INEC National Commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, had told journalists in Abuja that the commission had resolved to cooperate with police. “In addition and without prejudice to their prosecution, the indicted INEC staff will also face the commission’s internal disciplinary process,” he said. “The commission wishes to reiterate clearly that it will not shield staff that engages in any conduct that will undermine the integrity of the electoral process,” Mr. Soyebi stated. The defendants, who were all present at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, were however not arraigned because one of their lawyers, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to consider an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court. According to Mr. Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the defendants all reside outside Abuja while the alleged offence was committed in Port Harcourt. The judge, John Tsoho, adjourned the matter to April 7 for hearing Of Mr. Raji’s application.

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