Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and law enforcement agencies to arrest and try those behind the recent burning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices in Osun and Ogun states.
There were at least 41 attacks in 14 states between February 2019 and May 2021. Recent reports also show over 50 attacks on INEC offices in several states in the last few months.
In a letter dated November 12, 2022, and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP observed: “These attacks are increasingly putting INEC under siege. If not urgently addressed, the escalating attacks would impair people’s right to vote.
“The attacks would also undermine public trust and confidence in the electoral process. It is confidence in the process that is the true backbone of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy and rule of law.”
According to the organisation, the right to vote will have little meaning if perpetrators and sponsors of attacks on INEC offices continue to get away with their crimes against the Nigerian people.
The correspondence reads on: “An electoral commission that can operate in a safe and secure environment is essential to Nigeria’s constitutional democracy.
“The continued failure by your government to investigate, identify, name and shame perpetrators and their sponsors, as well as bring them to justice is fuelling impunity and resulting in a vicious cycle of attacks and violence.
“Ensuring security and safety of INEC officials and their working environment, as well as election equipment and materials is essential for the Commission to effectively and satisfactorily carry out its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.
“When armed non-state actors, including political thugs and their sponsors, attack offices of INEC and get away with their crime, the essential electoral reforms that have taken place would have little or no effect on the electoral process.”
“Arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators and their sponsors would check repetition ahead of the 2023 elections and improve INEC’s ability to discharge its responsibilities and promote the right to vote.
“Persistent and widespread attacks of INEC offices directly undermine people’s right to vote.”