SERAP Sues INEC Over Failure to Persecute Off-Cycle Elections Offenders

December 17, 2023

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) after the body ignored its earlier call to prosecute electoral offenders at the three off-cycle state elections held on November 11, 2023.

This was disclosed in a statement on Sunday by SERAP’s deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, saying the group’s suit followed the alleged failure of the electoral body to “arrest and prosecute suspected perpetrators of grave electoral offences in the recently concluded off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1694/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to probe the allegations of electoral offences including electoral violence, in the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.”

It also wants “an order of mandamus to compel INEC to promptly and effectively prosecute suspected perpetrators of these grave electoral offences, and bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them.”

The group also prays the court to compel INEC to disclose spending details on the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa States, including the specific amount spent to conduct voter and civic education and details of the activities carried out in the three states.

“There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring accountability for the grave electoral offences in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states. Granting the reliefs sought would compel INEC to live up to its constitutional and statutory responsibilities and end the impunity of electoral offenders,” the statement read.

“The recurring cases of electoral bribery and violence make a mockery of Nigeria’s electoral process and participatory democracy. The electoral offences in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states show that INEC has learnt little or nothing from the well-documented problems during the 2023 general elections.

“Unless INEC is compelled to arrest and prosecute suspected electoral offenders and their sponsors in the elections Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states, perpetrators would continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes.”

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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