A civil society organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to probe allegations of electoral bribery and violence in the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.
SERAP, which made this demand in an open letter it sent to the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, asked the electoral body to establish a joint, credible, transparent, effective, and broad-based investigation into the alleged malpractices and violence.
It also urged the Commission to identify, arrest, name and shame suspected perpetrators and the sponsors of these grave human rights crimes, and ensure their effective prosecution, regardless of their political status or affiliations.
SERAP further wants INEC to disclose the spending details on the governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states, including the specific amount spent to conduct voter and civic education and activities carried out in these states.
In the letter dated November 11, 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation insisted that if INEC is to live up to its constitutional and statutory responsibilities, it must take bold and effective measures to combat the culture of impunity for electoral bribery and violence in the country.
The organisation pointed out that the recurring cases of electoral bribery and violence make a mockery of Nigeria’s electoral process and participatory democracy.
The letter read in part: “INEC must acknowledge its own limitations and now embrace a transparent, credible, inclusive and broad-based investigation into the allegations of grave electoral offences in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.
“Electoral integrity is critical to a legitimate democracy. When the integrity of that process is compromised, the legitimacy of our government and the public confidence in our public institutions is seriously undermined.
“Reports of grave electoral offences in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states have shown that INEC and politicians have learnt little or nothing from the well-documented problems during the 2023 general elections.”
The CSO threatened legal action if its recommended measures are not taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
“If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest,” its stated.