Election violence: SERAP sues INEC over failure to probe govs, deputies
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over failure to investigate allegations of electoral violence and other electoral offences, including bribery against some state governors and their deputies during the 2023 elections.
The recently concluded presidential and national assembly elections and governorship elections in some states witnessed widespread reports of voter suppression, voter intimidation and the destruction or theft of election materials by political party agents and thugs across the six geopolitical zones.
In the suit, number FHC/ABJ/CS/583/2023, filed at the weekend, SERAP is asking the court for an order of mandamus compelling INEC to seek the appointment of independent counsel to investigate allegations of electoral offences against state governors and their deputies during the elections.
The organisation is seeking an order of mandamus compelling INEC to promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate reports of electoral violence and other electoral offences committed during the elections, identify suspected perpetrators and their sponsors, and ensure their effective prosecution.
It is also seeking an order of mandamus directing and compelling INEC to prosecute all arrested electoral offenders in the general elections in the custody of law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies.
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that by allegedly engaging in electoral violence and other electoral offences in so blatant a fashion, suspected perpetrators and their sponsors have clearly acted in violation of constitutional provisions, international standards and the Electoral Act.
SERAP said: “Identifying, arresting, investigating and prosecuting politicians and their sponsors suspected to be responsible for electoral offences during the polls would end the impunity of perpetrators. It would also advance Nigerians’ right to freely participate in their own government.
“Addressing the brazen impunity and reports of electoral violence and other electoral offences during the 2023 general elections would also send a strong message to politicians that they would be held to account for any infringement of the electoral process.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Andrew Nwankwo, and Ms Blessing Ogwuche, reads in part: “Election violence is a threat to fair and representative elections.
“Election violence is inconsistent and incompatible with the principles of democracy, the rule of law, transparency and accountability for politicians to allegedly use violence to disrupt the electoral process.”
“Section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act allows INEC to seek the appointment of an independent counsel to probe allegations of electoral violence and other electoral offences that may have been committed by any state governors and/or their deputies.”
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.
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