Ekiti Guber: SERAP Seeks Prosecution of APC, Others for Vote-Buying
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given Mr Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), seven days to prosecute the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for their alleged involvement in vote-buying in the just-concluded Ekiti State governorship election.
The body told the electoral commission to “gather information about reports of vote-buying, undue influence, intimidation, ballot box snatching, and other electoral offences by the three leading political parties in the just concluded Ekiti State governorship election.”
SERAP also urged INEC to “promptly and effectively prosecute those arrested and bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them.”
In the letter dated June 18, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Corruption of the ballot box intrudes on the freedom of Nigerian voters to make up their own minds. Vote-buying and other forms of electoral corruption freeze out the less wealthy candidates and parties.”
SERAP said, “Wealthy candidates and their sponsors ought not to be allowed to profit from their crimes. We are concerned that impunity for vote-buying and electoral bribery is widely prevalent in Nigeria, as perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.”
According to SERAP, “If voting is as important as INEC always claims it is, now is the time to end the buying of democracy by wealthy politicians and their sponsors” as it “encourages poor governance and weakens citizens’ capacity to hold their ‘elected officials’ accountable for their actions.”
In the letter, the group reminded the electoral umpire that, “Your commitment to these issues will demonstrate to the voters that INEC is ready, willing and able to combat vote-buying and electoral bribery and reassure Nigerians that INEC will do everything within its mandates to ensure that the 2023 general elections are not tainted by corruption.”
“Acting swiftly to address the brazen impunity and reports of vote-buying and electoral bribery and other electoral offences during the Ekiti state governorship election would also send a strong message to politicians that INEC under your watch would not tolerate such practices during the 2023 general elections,” it added.
“There are also several reports of ballot box snatching including in polling units with codes 13/05/06/005 and 007 in Ilawe Ward IV, near St. Patrick’s School. In several voting units, party agents for the APC, PDP and SDP reportedly clustered around the voting cubicle and saw how voters marked their ballot papers,” SERAP stated.
Concluding, it declared that, “We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.”
On Saturday, residents of Ekiti State headed to the polls to elect a new Governor and candidate of the APC, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, won the exercise after he defeated the candidate of the SDP, Mr Segun Oni, and that of the PDP, Mr Bisi Kolawole.