SERAP Urges Buhari to Probe Attack on Obi, Other Cases of Election-related Harassment
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba to investigate reported attack on the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, after a rally in Katsina state, and other cases of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence across the country.
Obi was reportedly attacked after a rally in Katsina with heavy stones while on his way to the airport.
The attack came on the heels of reported 339 incidents of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence across the country in 2022.
SERAP also urged Buhari to direct the IG and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to name and shame politicians and other perpetrators involved in violent attacks.
SERAP further urged him to caution state governors to end reported suppression of campaigns by opposition parties within their states, and to ensure the security and safety of opposition candidates, members and supporters.
In the letter dated January, 28, 2023, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, escalating cases of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence were fundamentally inconsistent with the principle of free and fair elections.
According to SERAP, investigating and prosecuting such cases and bringing perpetrators to justice would stop further violence, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage Nigerians to freely exercise their right to vote.
The letter read in part, “The Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act, and the country’s international human rights obligations recognise as fundamental the right to participate in one’s government, and the free and fair elections that implement it.
“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 your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“Election-related intimidation, harassment and violence are grave violations of the rights of Nigerians to participate in the democratic process and free and fair elections, as well as a range of other human rights.
“Free and fair elections mean elections conducted under conditions that enable voters to cast their votes as they wish purely on their own accord without any threats, intimidation, harassment or violence before, during and after elections.”