Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has advocated stiffer penalties for electoral offenders, especially criminally-minded politicians who engage in vote-buying, vote-selling, ballot stuffing and related vices, as the nation set for the conduct of general elections in 2023.
Falana who described the prosecution of the electoral offenders as a panacea to the credible election said it would serve as a deterrent to orders.
Making the submission in his address entitled ‘The Mass Media as the Fulcrum of Democracy; A Celebration of BCOS Television at 40 at the 40th Anniversary of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State Television held at International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan on Thursday, stressed the need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that perpetrators of electoral fraud are prosecuted in accordance with the law.
Falana who was represented at the occasion by Dr Tayo Omitola said all hands must be on deck in order to right an agelong wrong, especially the evil perpetrated by the evil-minded and moneybag politicians during the conduct of elections in the Country.
The legal luminary stated that the conduct of credible elections should not be left in the hands of INEC alone, adding media should assist in exposing corrupt politicians through their reports, as well as mount pressure on INEC to prosecute them in accordance with section 145 of the Electoral Act.
“I wish to submit that the media has the duty to continuously expose political parties in power at any level that make false electoral promises. The leaders of such parties are no different from fraudsters who obtain money under false pretences’ which is a crime under section 419 of the Criminal Code.
“Secondly, the media should campaign against political parties which violate their own constitutions. People who violate the party constitutions they freely give to themselves will not hesitate to rape the Country’s Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“Thirdly, the media should collaborate with progressive forces to fight for the establishment of true political parties in which members pay membership dues and therefore control their parties, rather than the present culture in which parties, mainly by misappropriating public funds, pay people to be party members.
“The media also needs to assist in fighting against the prevalent electoral crime of vote-buying under the ‘vote and get paid’ culture as was witnessed in the June 18, 2022, Ekiti State governorship elections.