Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for failure to prosecute political parties and agents caught in vote-buying in the concluded Ekiti State election.
Goldennewsng reports that SERAP argued that vote-buying undermines the right of citizens to elect credible leaders into public offices who they can hold.
The suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1189/2022, was filed by Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, SERAP lawyers, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday.
SERAP 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.”
SERAP in the suit is also arguing that vote-buying undermines the ability of INEC to discharge its responsibility to conduct a credible, free, and fair election for the advancement of the country’s democracy.
“Vote buying undermines the ability of INEC 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,” SERAP argued.
“Ending impunity for vote buying and electoral bribery would contribute to free and fair elections. A corruption-free electoral process is essential for building public confidence in the electoral process and the credibility and legitimacy of the 2023 elections.
“One of the people’s most sacred rights is the right to vote. INEC has a constitutional and statutory responsibility to ensure the effective exercise of the right of all eligible voters to participate in their own government in free and fair elections.
“Many years of allegations of vote buying and electoral bribery and entrenched impunity of perpetrators have undermined public confidence in the electoral process.
“Preventing and combating vote buying and electoral bribery would advance the people’s right to vote and to participate in their own government, as well as bolster the ability of INEC to effectively discharge its constitutional and statutory mandates.
“Prosecuting allegations of vote buying and electoral bribery would be entirely consistent with the Nigerian constitution, the electoral act and the country’s international human rights anti-corruption obligations.”
SERAP also alleged that in the concluded Ekiti election, “Agents of the three dominant political parties in the state, namely All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP), were reportedly involved in buying votes across the state, and voters offered as high as N10,000 in exchange for their votes.”
SERAP frowned that INEC is yet to prosecute the arrested offenders of the different political parties.
No date has been fixed by the court to hear the suit.