Executive Director of the organisation, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, said in a statement that a letter on the demand had be sent to the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, adding that SERAP would institute a suit against the commission if it failed to comply.
Mumuni disclosed that the letter urged INEC to collaborate with Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the investigation.
According to him, SERAP urges INEC to prosecute anyone suspected to be involved or complicit in the alleged vote-buying, if there is relevant and sufficient evidence of electoral bribery and abuse of the democratic process against them.
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He said the organisation requested Yakubu to take steps within 14 days of receipt of the letter, to act.
“This is to compel you and INEC to discharge your constitutional and statutory responsibilities in the public interest,” he quoted the letter as saying.
Mumuni said that it was the responsibility of INEC, as an independent body, to take meaningful steps and actions to minimise electoral bribery by politicians, adding that the commission needed to ensure political equality and prevent unfair electoral competition.
According to him, this is because nobody politic worthy of being called a democracy entrusts the selection of leaders to a process of auction or barter.
He said that vote-buying amounted to undue influence and improper electoral influence.
The SERAP director said that when politicians bought votes, they reinforced social subjugation and did long-term damage to poor voters as vote-buying impaired voters’ already limited political power and participation in governance.
He said that offering and giving poor people money to buy their votes was the hallmark of political disrespect as it implied that politicians perceived voters as lacking autonomy.
He disclosed that copies of the letter to INEC were also sent to ICPC and EFCC and that investigating the allegations and prosecuting suspects in the process would indicate the agencies’ willingness to exert authorities.
The human rights activist stated that this would send a strong message to politicians that INEC would not tolerate any infringement of the electoral process ahead of 2019 general elections.
He said that vote-buying amounted to undue interference in the free exercise of the right to vote as it was implicitly aimed at influencing or attempting to influence a voter not to vote or to vote in a particular manner.
Mumini said that the N3,000 or N5,000 allegedly given to voters during the Ekiti election or payment into the bank accounts of voters was corruptly intended.
He said that it was clearly aimed to influence the choice of candidates and their voting intention.
According to him, the practice seriously undermined the right of voters to freely vote out of their convictions.
Mumuni said that vote-buying gave wealthy politicians an advantage in election campaigns and outcome greater than what they already possessed.
“Our democracy cannot be sustainable when the electoral system inordinately prioritises the rights of political parties and their candidates in elections over and above those of the ordinary voter,” he said.
He added that when politicians bought votes from the poor, political equality suffered.
He alleged that many voters were videoed moving in numbers to ‘cash collection points’ in lieu of their votes, while others received alerts.
“We consider allegations of vote-buying as political corruption, because it is the promising or giving of value in the form of money in return for a promise of a vote.
“We are concerned that the failure of INEC to rein-in electoral bribery is illustrated by the fact that the body has failed and/or neglected to investigate and prosecute similar incidents in other states,” the director said.
According to him, the states included Edo, Anambra and Ondo.