SERAP To INEC: Arrest Electoral Offenders In Bayelsa, Kogi, Imo

The rights group gave INEC seven days to comply or risk legal actions to compel the commission to act on its request which is in public interest.

A file photo of INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu


Civil society organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “to promptly establish a joint, credible, transparent, effective, and broad-based investigation into allegations of electoral bribery and violence in the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states”.

In a statement on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, urged INEC Chair, Mahmood Yakubu, to immediately “identify, arrest, name and shame suspected perpetrators and their sponsors of these grave human rights crimes, and ensure their effective prosecution, regardless of their political status or affiliations.”

SERAP also urged him to “disclose the spending details on the governorship elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states, including the specific amount spent to conduct voter and civic education and activities carried out in these states.”

SERAP said, “The recurring cases of electoral bribery and violence make a mockery of Nigeria’s electoral process and participatory democracy.

“Electoral integrity is critical to a legitimate democracy. When the integrity of that process is compromised, the legitimacy of our government and the public confidence in our public institutions is seriously undermined.”

The organisation added, “Reports of grave electoral offences in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states have shown that INEC and politicians have learnt little or nothing from the well-documented problems during the 2023 general elections.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest,” the statement partly read.

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“There are reports of specific cases of pre-completed result sheets including in five local government areas of Kogi State – Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori/Magongo, Okehi and Okene.

“Suspected political thugs reportedly harassed journalists covering the governorship election in Omuma Community in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State. INEC official in the Oguta Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State also alleged that some men invaded her polling unit and carted away result sheets.”

“According to a report by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), there were several reports of electoral violence and vote buying across the three states. For example, there were reports of incidents in PU 1, Ward 8 and PU 11, Ward 1 in Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa West.

“In Bayelsa Central, vote trading was reported in PU 16, Ward 6 in Yenegoa LGA, PU 22, PU 30 and 31, Ward 13 in Southern Ijaw LGA with reports of voter inducements ranging from N5,000 – N22,000, and items such as wrappers and rice were also reportedly shared to buy votes.

“In Kogi, there were reports of vote buying in PUs 004, 038 and 039 in Ward A of Lokoja LGA, where party agents were allegedly sharing out money to voters upon confirmation that they voted for their party candidates.”