A rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to drag the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, to court if he failed to launch an enquiry into allegations of vote buying in the just concluded Ekiti gubernatorial election.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said it has petitioned the INEC chairman asking him to promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate allegations of vote buying by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the governorship election in Ekiti State.
The organization wants the electoral body to collaborate with both the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in any such investigation.
SERAP also urged INEC to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be involved in the criminal act, if there was relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of electoral bribery and abuse of the electoral and democratic process against such individual. The organization added that should the INEC chairman fail to attend to its requests within two weeks of receipt of its letter, it would be left with no option than to seek legal redress.
The letter, copies of which were also sent to the ICPC and EFCC reads: “It is the responsibility of INEC as an independent body to take meaningful steps and action to minimise electoral bribery by politicians, ensure political equality and prevent unfair electoral competition. No body politic worthy of being called a democracy entrusts the selection of leaders to a process of auction or barter. “Vote buying amounts to undue influence and improper electoral influence.
When politicians buy votes, they reinforce social subjugation and do long-term damage to poor voters, as vote buying impairs voters’ already limited political power and participation in governance. Offering and giving poor people money to buy their votes is the hallmark of political disrespect, as it implies that politicians perceive voters as lacking autonomy.
“Investigating the allegations and prosecuting all those suspected to be involved would indicate your agencies’ willingness to exert your authorities and act as a deterrent against breaches of the electoral process, Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation and international standards.
“SERAP therefore urges you to carry out investigation and prosecution of vote buying in Ekiti election but also in the elections in Anambra State, Edo State and Ondo State, in collaboration with the ICPC and EFCC of the allegations of vote buying, as highlighted above.