SERAP sues INEC for failure to try Ekiti vote buyers

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Oladimeji Ramon

Advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has commenced a lawsuit to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to prosecute the politicians who engaged in vote-buying during the July 14 Ekiti State governorship election.

In the suit filed on Friday before the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is urging the court to order the Chairman of INEC, Prof Yakubu Mahmoud, to demand from law enforcement agencies the reports on the alleged vote-buying, so that culpable politician could be prosecuted.

SERAP said it resorted to filing the suit after INEC wrote to it last week that it could not arrest vote buyers, as demanded by SERAP.

INEC, in the said letter, explained to SERAP that while it had power to prosecute electoral offenders, it had to rely on other law enforcement agencies to first arrest the offenders and hand them over before it could prosecute.

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SERAP, in his suit, urged the court to order INEC to collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and theIndependent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to bring the Ekiti vote buyers to book.

In the suit filed by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said its suit followed allegation that both the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party engaged in vote-buying during the governorship election in Ekiti State.

The group claimed that, “till date, INEC and its Chairman have failed, neglected and/or refused to comply with the request by SERAP to prosecute alleged vote buyers.”

It contended that “INEC has no reason whatsoever not to comply with SERAP’s request, because the commission has constitutional and statutory responsibilities to prosecute bribery and undue influence in the context of elections and other electoral offences, as well as conduct and ensure a free and fair election.