The SocioEconomic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the failure to investigate allegations of electoral violence and other electoral offences including bribery against some state governors and their deputies during the 2023 elections.
According to reports, 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 last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja SERAP is asking the court for an order of mandamus compelling INEC to seek the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate allegations of electoral offences against state governors and their deputies during the 2023 elections.
SERAP 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.
SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus directing and compelling INEC to prosecute all arrested electoral offenders in the 2023 general election in the custody of law enforcement and anticorruption 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 is arguing that identifying, arresting, investigating and prosecuting any politicians and their sponsors suspected to be responsible for electoral offences during the elections would end the impunity of perpetrators.
It would also advance Nigerians right to freely participate in their own government.
SERAP is also arguing that 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, read 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.
When politicians and their sponsors decide to engage in electoral violence and other electoral offences rather than contest fairly for peoples votes, there are possibilities that such politicians will show a disregard for democratic rules and a disposition to adopt illegal means becomes inevitable.
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