NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22 – The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is urging the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to be firm in enforcing the Electoral Code of Conduct.
While giving his opening remarks during the 3rd National Prosecution Service Convention which kicked off on Thursday at the School of Government in Kabete, Keriako Tobiko said strict adherence to the Electoral Code was key to free and fair polls.
“IEBC itself as the umpire must be firm and uphold the law and must be fair, impartial, transparent and accountable. It must enforce the electoral code of conduct without fear or favour,” he stated.
“The media play a critical role in particularly ensuring that their coverage is unbiased, equitable and fair.”
Tobiko said the Directorate of Public Prosecutions will not hesitate to prosecute those who contravene the law regardless of their political affiliations.
“No enforcement agencies and the justice agencies and this includes the DPP have also greater responsibility to apply the law fairly, firmly and impartially,” he stated. “There are no sacred cows. It does not matter who commits the offence, it does not matter which party he or she belongs to. The law is blind and must be enforced without selective discrimination.”
Tobiko’s remarks come a day after IEBC’s Code of Conduct Enforcement Committee led by Chairperson Wafula Chebukati heard seven cases involving the breach of the electoral code.
He reaffirmed the commitment of his office to effectively, expeditiously and without fear or favour prosecute all election related offences including hate speech, acts of violence and electoral fraud.
He was speaking following the establishment of a Rapid Response Election Offences team with 105 prosecution counsel in all the 47 counties.
He revealed that out of the current nominations process four cases have been investigated and convictions handed down.
“We have received 78 matters from investigative agencies. Out of these, we have registered 57 cases involving 97 individuals from all factions of the political divide and are in respect of Governor, Senator, MP and MCA positions,” he stated.
The Indepednent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati stated that the Office of the Director of Public prosecution is extremely pivotal in achieving the goal of free and fair elections.
“Just to recall the decision of the Supreme Court of Uganda free and fair elections requires that candidates, voters and political parties whose acts or omissions offend the electoral law must be swiftly prosecuted or otherwise dealt with in accordance with the law,” he stated.
He observed that the recent amendments to the Elections Act, in addition to the Constitutional provisions appropriately vest the responsibility of prosecutions of elections offences solely on the ODPP.
“As a prosecution service, you have immense weight of responsibility on your shoulders. But I have no doubt, that with the capacity of people I see in this room, you will make the country proud,” he said.
He stated that all prospective candidates were required to register public assets in their possession by virtue of their offices within 14 days of the said date and hence the Commission provided a deadline of May 2, 2017.
He stated that however, only 12 candidates registered with the Commission and pointed out that they are the only ones entitled to enjoy state assets in the course of the campaign period.
“It is only those declared assets. In the event any other candidate is found using state resources, such candidates would be committing elections offences and would be liable to prosecution,” he said.