Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the persistent corruption, violence, and killings during elections in Nigeria, particularly in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
It asked ICC to determine whether the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes does not amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
The petition dated November 16, 2019 was sent to, ICC Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda.
The organisation urged Ms Bensouda to push for the trial of those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi state elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions; they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.”
According to SERAP, “In the ICC case on Kenyan election violence, the culture of impunity was considered one reason why violence had been ‘normalised’ as a means of political struggle. We, therefore, urge you to investigate allegations of corruption, violence and killings in Bayelsa and Kogi elections, if the ICC is to contribute to preventing escalations in future elections, including the general elections scheduled to hold in 2023.”
The petition read in part: “The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi States also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“Corruption and violence in elections contribute to decline in the quality of the politicians occupying public offices, which in turn lead to bad governance.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.”