The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has petitioned the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Hon. Justice Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola, requesting him “to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegations that some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) involved in the April 25 governorship rerun election in Ekiti State demanded for or received bribes to discharge their official duties, which if true would have compromised the electoral process itself.”
In the petition dated 4 May 2009, and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization stated that, “According to reports, each of the Collation Officers serving in Ekiti was to collect N200, 000, while a Presiding Officer was to collect N100, 000. One Mr. Okey Ndeche of the Operations Department of INEC reportedly collected the money for distribution to his colleagues. The disbursement of the bribe money was reportedly awaiting clearance from the INEC chairman.”
The organization also said that it is “seriously concerned that the above allegations are grave breaches of the 1999 Constitution, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Act of 2000, and international anti-corruption conventions including the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Specifically, Sections 9, 10, and 17 of the Corrupt Practices Act would appear to have been violated in the above mentioned case. Section 9 prohibits corrupt offers to public officers; Section 10 prohibits corrupt demand by any persons; while Section 17 prohibits gratification by and through agents.”
“Any person who corruptly accepts, obtains or agrees to accept or obtain from any person for himself or for any other person, any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing, forbearing to do or having done or forborne to do any act or thing, gives or agrees to give or offers any gift or consideration to any agent as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do any act or thing in relation to his principal's affairs or business is guilty of an offence.
The UN Convention against Corruption contains similar prohibitions, and imposes clear obligations on Nigeria to investigate allegations of bribery such as the present one; and prosecute suspected perpetrators,” the organization added.
The organization also said that “the allegation that money is being used to influence electoral officials poses a serious threat to the emergence of a truly representative democracy, and implants corruption at the very heart of the democratic and political system. Controlling the influence of money in the election requires among others, a thorough investigation of allegations such as the present one, and the prosecution of suspected perpetrators.”
“Addressing the allegations above would ultimately help to achieve a corruption-free electoral process not only in Ekiti but also in the whole country ahead of 2011 elections, and contribute to the restoration of transparency, accountability, good governance and the rule of law in the democratic dispensation,” the organization further added.
The organization therefore asked the ICPC to:
• Fully and transparently investigate the allegations that some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) involved in the April 25 governorship rerun election in Ekiti State demanded for or received bribes to discharge their official duties, which if true would have compromised the electoral process itself.
• Make public the findings of its investigation
• Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible.
• Work closely with the INEC to prevent bribery in the work of electoral officials in Ekiti state, and and to ensure full compliance with Constitutional requirements and anti-corruption international conventions and standards.