The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has made a fervent appeal to Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), urging him to utilize INEC’s authority to pursue essential constitutional and legal reforms. These reforms would explicitly recognize Nigerians’ fundamental right to vote securely in free, fair, and transparent elections.
Furthermore, SERAP has requested that INEC take a proactive role in advancing constitutional and legal reforms that incorporate specific, mandatory provisions related to internet voter registration and the use of modern technology throughout the electoral process, including voter registration and the reporting of results.
In a letter dated October 28, 2023, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization emphasized the importance of explicitly recognizing the right to vote securely as a means to enhance representative democracy in Nigeria. SERAP argued that the resistance among politicians to modernize the electoral legal framework and mandate the use of technology in the electoral process undermines the rights of Nigerians to participate effectively in their government.
According to SERAP, the current state of election infrastructure security poses a significant threat to the fundamental right to vote, and this issue can no longer be ignored. To address these challenges, SERAP advocated for swift adaptations and innovations in both election laws and technology.
The letter highlighted that a legally enforceable right to vote is the cornerstone of any democratic society and stressed that confidence in the electoral process has been eroding, with many Nigerians expressing concerns about the credibility and integrity of elections. SERAP argued that Nigerian politicians have little incentive to pursue genuine constitutional and legal reforms that would enhance citizens’ right to participate in the electoral process and trust in the mechanisms of government.
The organization reminded INEC of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities to promote the right of eligible Nigerians to vote securely, as well as its mandates under the Electoral Act and the Nigerian Constitution to promote knowledge of sound democratic election processes.
SERAP stressed that the lack of explicit and enforceable rights to vote securely in the Nigerian Constitution has undermined Nigerians’ ability to participate effectively in their government and has damaged the credibility and integrity of the electoral process. The organization emphasized that without the constitutional recognition of the right to vote and vote securely as a fundamental right, millions of Nigerians would continue to be denied their right to participate in their own government.
In conclusion, SERAP underscored the importance of modernizing the electoral legal framework to align with international human rights principles and ensure free, fair, and honest elections. The organization indicated that it would consider legal actions if INEC does not take the recommended measures within seven days of receiving or publishing the letter to comply with their requests in the public interest.