2019 Elections: SERAP Threatens To Sue FG Over Postponement Polls

2 years ago Ogunsuyi Roland 0

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has said that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 and the leadership of the National Assembly should be held responsible for the postponement of the 2019 general elections now re-scheduled for Saturday.

“Given the increasing tendency to postpone elections and the cumulative failures and corruption over the years, SERAP would, after the elections, pursue appropriate legal action against the government in power and the National Assembly leadership for the catalogue of breaches of constitutional and international obligations, and seek effective remedies for the citizens.”

The organization promised to deploy the Freedom of Information Act to seek information on details of spending by INEC since 1999, as part of our initiatives to improve transparency and accountability of governmental operations and promote respect for citizens’ right to participate in the processes of government and governance in the country.”

In a statement issued on Sunday and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said postponement of Nigeria’s elections since 2007 has  shown a systemic failure of leadership at the highest level of government.

It regretted that our electoral process is deliberately skewed in favour of politicians’ interests, who continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that have characterised the process since 1999, and against those of the citizens.

According to the organization: “Calling for the resignation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu rather than addressing the root causes of persistent postponement of elections is a blatant attempt by politicians to scapegoat the electoral commission.”

The statement read in part: “While the INEC leadership ought to proactively push for reform of the electoral system, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly that have the legal responsibility but have remained largely impervious to revolutionary change of the electoral system, should be held to account for this fundamental breach of public trust.

“Foisting outdated electoral system on Nigerians, and spending huge public funds to sustain it, seems in uneasy tension with constitutional provisions and Nigeria’s international obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to which Nigeria is a state party.

“Rather than prioritising genuine and comprehensive reforms of the electoral system that would upgrade and modernize our voting processes, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly would seem to prefer the status quo, presumably to undermine citizens’ right to participation and to continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that the current system and processes breed.

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“It is clear that the current electoral process is vulnerable to corruption but politicians would seem to have little incentive to comprehensively reform, upgrade and modernise it. It is unlikely that either the federal government or the National Assembly would take the steps necessary to sort out our electoral system, and improve transparency, accountability and integrity of the electoral process”.

SERAP therefore urged Nigerians to take more active role in the fight against corruption, including by putting pressure on the authorities at the federal and state levels and the National Assembly to comprehensively reform, upgrade and modernize our electoral system and processes adding “otherwise, citizens’ right to participate in the governance system will remain a ‘hollow right’.”

“Given that the right to vote is considered a part of an individual’s fundamental right to political participation, persistent postponement of elections in the country raises serious questions about the legitimacy and integrity of Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.”

“Persistent failure to upgrade and modernize the electoral system has effectively relegated the right of participation to paper tiger status, undermining the ability of citizens to genuinely participate in the fight against corruption and to hold their leaders to account. Yet, a transparent, accountable and modernized electoral process is a prerequisite to the effective exercise of citizenship in a democratic society.”

“No right is more precious in a democratic country than that of having a voice in the election of those who represent us. That voice is not lost when the electoral process is skewed in favour of politicians’ interests and against the Nigerian voters. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined by the collective failure to upgrade and modernize the country’s electoral processes.”

The organization said now is the time to push for revolutionary changes in how Nigeria conducts its elections. The changes should effectively deploy modern technology, which has been successfully used in the business and other sectors in the country. Such changes may include the introduction of a national system of Internet voting, to innovative ideas on how to adapt the election systems to facilitate participation by different sectors of the population, to conform with twenty-first century elections.”

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