‘Disclose SIECs’ members, LGA results’, or ..SERAP tells 36 govs

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged the 36 state governors “to promptly disclose details of chairmen and members of the State Independent Electoral Commissions, SIECs, in the states, including their qualifications and political affiliations, if any, and the mechanisms of their appointment.”

SERAP threatened legal action against the governors, should they fail to provide the information which is sought under the Freedom of Information, FoI Act.

The body also wants the governors “to provide details of the results of local government elections conducted in their states since 1999, and the voters’ register for any such elections.”

Recall that Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had last week alleged that, “the conduct of local government elections in virtually all states has become mere coronation of candidates of the ruling parties.”

SERAP in a Freedom of Information requests by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “State governors have the constitutional responsibility to establish and allow independent electoral commissions to conduct local government elections fairly and impartially.”

According to the group, “The reported interference by state governors in the operations of SIECs and apparent manipulation of local government elections are clearly incompatible with Nigerians’ right to effectively participate in their own government.”

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It further said: “Governors’ reported interference in the operations of SIECs and manipulation of local government elections have seriously undermined the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process and public trust and confidence in the process, as well as the integrity of the country’s democracy.”

The letters, read: “Local government elections in several states are susceptible to manipulation by governors. The appointment process of chairmen and members of SIECs and the operations of these commissions are shrouded in secrecy.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel you, your states and SIECs to comply with our requests in the public interest.

“State governors have also reportedly continued to undermine the enjoyment of people’s right to participate in their own government.

“The combined effect of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, and the country’s international obligations is the requirement that local government elections must be organised by a truly independent and impartial electoral body.

“Human rights treaties also require states parties including Nigeria to ensure the independence and impartiality of national electoral bodies responsible for the management of elections, as well as to promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation.”

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