judges disbelieved INEC officials who swore under oath that the elections took place and were free and fair. Credible evidence had also been laid before the courts that once again, police and even military officers were used to rig the elections. My question today is that would the impunity continue and would officials who rig elections be allowed to get away with it after a court of competent jurisdiction has shown that they lied under oath. In a normal regime of the rule of law, wouldn’t all the INEC officials who lied under oath that these elections were free and fair, while they had been rigged be sent to jail at least for perjury. In addition, shouldn’t the leadership of INEC immediately dismiss these officials for breaching their professional integrity and bringing the name of an important State institution into disrepute? I challenge Professor Mahmood Yakubu and his team in the new Electoral Commission to immediately take up these issues. There were news reports that the Nigerian army has decided to show leadership by investigating its officers who were alleged to have played a role in organizing electoral fraud in last year’s Ekiti and Osun governorship elections. I believe that other State institutions should take a cue from what the army has apparently decided to do. Election tribunals should also learn to punish those who come to lie under oath.
In 2005, we carried out a research project on Nigeria’s electoral geography and the key finding was that electoral realities were very different as you move from zone to zone in the country. In some zones, there has been a strong tradition of defending the electoral mandate and people insist on exercising their franchise and raise hell when their electoral mandate is stolen. It was in that context that all hell broke loose in Ondo State when FEDECO three away the genuine electoral result and invented and announced completely false results. In some other zones of the country, we found out people had never ever voted in elections and results were simply written in favour of incumbent governments. It is impossible to deepen democracy when electoral traditions vary so profoundly. What is emerging from the election tribunals is clear evidence that while the elections in most parts of the country were free and fair in the 2015 general elections, there are still strongholds of anti-democratic forces that continue to deny many Nigerians the franchise that the Constitution provides. Moving forward and consolidating democracy requires that impunity in the commitment of electoral crimes must stop.