Politics News

SERAP to Govs: Unveil SIEC members’ details, LG poll results in 7 days

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the 36 state governors seven days to make public the details of chairpersons and members of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) in their respective states.
The accountability organisation is also demanding from the governors, the disclosure of SIEC members’ qualifications, political affiliations, if any, and the mechanisms of their appointments.
SERAP, which threatened to drag the governors to court if after seven days it failed to provide the information, also wants them to disclose the results of local government elections conducted in their states since 1999 and the voters’ register for any such polls.
The civil society organisation made the requests in a Freedom of Information request dated June 1 2024, as signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
SERAP also urged the governors to clarify and explain how their states have complied with the requirements of the 1999 Constitution and international standings in conducting local government elections in their states, including the details of any law regulating such polls.
The organisation further said that state governors have the constitutional responsibility to establish and allow independent electoral commissions to conduct local government elections fairly and impartially.
It also stated that the reported interference by state governors in the operations of SIECs and apparent manipulation of local government elections are incompatible with Nigerians’ right to participate in their government effectively.
SERAP claimed that 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 as well as public trust and confidence in the process, including the integrity of the country’s democracy.
The organisation maintained that local government elections in several states are susceptible to manipulation by governors and that the appointment process of chairpersons and members of SIECs and the operations of these commissions are shrouded in secrecy.
It also said state governors have reportedly continued to undermine the enjoyment of people’s right to participate in their government.
SERAP further averred that 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 be organised by independent and impartial electoral body.
It stated, “Human rights treaties also require state 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.
“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their public institutions’ activities.
“The crisis confronting Nigerian elections and lack of public trust and confidence in local government elections can be addressed only if the elections are conducted by independent and impartial state electoral commissions and by the Nigerian Constitution and international standards.”
“Confidence in the country’s electoral process is increasingly on the decline. Many Nigerians are concerned about the credibility and integrity of local government elections in your states.”
SERAP insisted that the major problem facing the country’s democracy is the lack of respect for Nigerians’ right to participation and the accompanying accompaniment, saying if citizens do not believe in the election process, then the entire system of democratic government becomes a questionable enterprise.
“As its name suggests, SIEC is expected to maintain independence or absolute neutrality. SIECs must not only be independent and impartial, but also be seen as independent and impartial.”
“However, the mere fact that SIEC has “independent” in its name does not in itself make it independent. What makes an institution truly independent and impartial are its attributes and characteristics, and the credibility and transparency of the appointment process.
“Your states have a legal responsibility to promote and guarantee the integrity, credibility, and independence of SIECs and to ensure that the electoral commissions are free from political and other interferences.”
“The credibility and legitimacy of elections depend in part on the integrity and competence of the body conducting the process and the transparency of the appointment process for SIECs.
“You have constitutional and international obligations to ensure the independence of SIEC and build the confidence of the electorate and political parties in local government elections, and to promote public confidence in appointing SIECs’ chairmen and members,” SERAP said.
The organisation said information available to it revealed that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, recently stated that. “the conduct of Local Government elections in virtually all the states has become mere coronation of candidates of the ruling parties.
“The 36 SIECs in the country are responsible for the election of 768 local government chairmen and 8,747 councillors totalling 9 515 constituencies.”
“SERAP is concerned that SIECs lack the capacity and independence to effectively and efficiently perform their constitutional and statutory functions.
“Many of the SIECs have no functional offices in the local government areas in their states and cannot recruit their permanent staff. In some states, the SIECs are either not properly constituted, have no security of tenure, or have or have critical functions over government officials.”
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