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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for ‘failing to prosecute those suspected of vote-buying and electoral bribery’ in the governorship election in Ekiti State which was conducted on June 18.
In a statement yesterday which was made available to Africa Daily News, New York, SERAP cited reports that suggested there was a brazen pattern of vote-buying and electoral bribery at several polling units in the state, including bargaining prices for votes and payments made in uncompleted buildings.
Filing the suit last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is seeking ‘an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to seek and obtain detailed information about reports of vote-buying by the three leading political parties in the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election.’
In suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1189/2022, it also seeks “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to promptly and effectively prosecute those arrested, and to bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them.”
‘Vote-buying is a threat to fair and representative elections. Vote-buying amounts to undue influence and improper electoral influence,’ the statement by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, read in part.
‘Wealthy candidates and their sponsors ought not to be allowed to profit from their crimes. Arresting and prosecuting vote-buyers will end widespread impunity for vote buying ahead of the February 2023 general election.’
Arguing that vote buying encourages poor governance and weakens citizens’ capacity to hold their ‘elected officials’ accountable for their actions, SERAP says the act undermines INEC’s ability to discharge its responsibilities under Section 153 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), paragraph 15(a) of the third schedule of the Constitution, and the Electoral Act 2022.
Africa Daily News, New York reports that no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.