Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that neither he nor the commission is under any external influence or pressure in conducting election in Nigeria.
Yakubu stated this at a capacity development workshop for INEC press corps on Friday in Abuja.
Yakubu, answering question on allegations that the commission was operating under the influence of the presidency and political actors, said there was no influence on the commission.
“There is nothing I am looking for that God has not given to me. I don’t think there is anybody that can influence or intimidate me.
I have never been approached by anybody to do anything in any way other than what is appropriate.
I am not under any external pressure, neither are the members of the Commission,” he said.
He said that the outcome of the election so far was a proof that the independence of INEC was not compromised and opposition party still won in majority of the recently conducted elections.
He said that more than 70 per cent of the election conducted by the commission in the recent time was won by opposition parties.
He added that only one out of the 163 elections conducted under his watch has been nullified in the court of the law.
Speaking on issues of hate speeches and financial inducement of voters by politicians, Yakubu said that they remained electoral offences.
“There are provisions under the Electoral Act for dealing with these kinds of violations. But we have been saying that INEC has been saddled with the responsibility for which it neither has the capacity nor the training to handle. We shall continue to do what we can to successfully prosecute,” he said.
He reiterated the Commission’s call for the setting up of the Electoral Offenses Commission and Tribunal to which every electoral offender and violator would be subjected, including staff of the Commission.
He said that until such was done, the efforts of the Commission, giving the limitation and challenges it was faced with, might not be sufficient enough.
He said that the commission would in 2017 come up with initiatives to improve on the electoral processes.
The initiatives, according to him, include making the processes of voter registration, transfer, verification of registration status, and relocation easier by introducing online platforms for easy access to the electorate.
Pauline Torehall, Head of Politics, Information and Communication section, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, disclosed that the EU had given technical support to Nigeria to improve its electoral processes.
He said that the supports included INEC policy framework and communication as well as voters education.
Torehall said that the relationship between INEC and the EU has been very cordial.
Also, Mohammed Momoh, the Special Assistant to the Managing Director of the Agency of Nigeria (NAN), urged journalists to go extra mile in making themselves relevant in the field, especially in the era of new media.
Momoh said any journalist who wanted to be relevant in the 21 century must engage in research and multimedia.