Updated: March 7, 2021
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Nigerian activists announced on Sunday that they had taken the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, to court for failing to charge vote buyers with a crime.
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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a statement to Today News Africa in Washington DC said it dragged INEC to court over the commission’s “failure to put Ekiti vote buyers on trial and do something about the allegations of vote buying by both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during recent governorship election in Ekiti State.”
Ekiti is a state in southwest Nigeria that recently hosted a governorship election. The polls were dogged by allegations that votes were massively bought by party agents, including on election day.
Why it matters: Most Nigerians live in poverty and politicians often take advantage of their misery by offering them money in exchange for votes. Once elected, politicians usually try to recoup their “investment” by enriching themselves, rather than pursuing the policies that would benefit the people. In going to court, SERAP is trying to tackle Nigeria’s deep seated corruption.
In the suit filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP said it is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus compelling INEC and its Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu to instruct security agencies to forward to them reports of their investigations into allegations of vote buying during the governorship election in Ekiti State and to collaborate with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence prosecution of indicted persons.”
The suit followed the electoral commission’s response to SERAP last week saying that while it had powers to prosecute alleged vote buyers, it lacked the powers to arrest and investigate suspects.