Reactions have continued to pour in after the electoral body in Nigeria postponed the general election by one week. 

One of the questions that have kept coming is: Who will compensate people who will have to shift their events from February 23 to another date or even those that travelled for the election?

While some Nigerians vent anger on the Independent National Electoral Commission, a rights' group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) wants them to focus their attentions on a different set of people, insisting they were behind the postponement of the election. 

Many Nigerians had travelled from one location to another for the elections, but were disappointed when they woke up in the morning and found their journey had been in vain. 

Now SERAP has identified the persons behind the postponement of the general election meant to begin on Saturday, February 16 and it says it will sue them.

SERAP wants you to “hold successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 and the leadership of the National Assembly responsible for the patently unlawful postponement of the 2019 general elections scheduled to hold yesterday but now to hold on Saturday".

The organisation said: “Given the increasing tendency to postpone elections and the cumulative failures and corruption over the years, SERAP would, after the elections, pursue appropriate legal action against the government in power and the National Assembly leadership for the catalogue of breaches of constitutional and international obligations, and seek effective remedies for the citizens".

"To Scapegoat The Electoral Commission"

In a statement on Sunday signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The postponement of Nigeria’s elections since 2007 shows a systemic failure of leadership at the highest level of government, and suggests that our electoral process is deliberately skewed in favour of politicians’ interests, who continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that have characterised the process since 1999, and against those of the citizens.

"Calling for the resignation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, rather than addressing the root causes of persistent postponement of elections is a blatant attempt by politicians to scapegoat the electoral commission.

The statement read: “While the INEC leadership ought to proactively push for reform of the electoral system, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly that have the legal responsibility but have remained largely impervious to revolutionary change of the electoral system, should be held to account for this fundamental breach of public trust.

“Foisting outdated electoral system on Nigerians, and spending huge public funds to sustain it, seems in uneasy tension with constitutional provisions and Nigeria’s international obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“Rather than prioritising genuine and comprehensive reforms of the electoral system that would upgrade and modernise our voting processes, successive governments and leadership of the National Assembly would seem to prefer the status quo, presumably to undermine citizens’ right to participation and to continue to profit from the corruption and impunity that the current system and processes breed.

“It is clear that the current electoral process is vulnerable to corruption but politicians would seem to have little incentive to comprehensively reform, upgrade and modernise it. It is unlikely that either the federal government or the National Assembly would take the steps necessary to sort out our electoral system, and improve transparency, accountability and integrity of the electoral process.

Also Read: How INEC's Action Cost Nigerian Economy Over 500 Billion Naira

“We urge Nigerians to take more active role in the fight against corruption, including by putting pressure on the authorities at the federal and state levels and the National Assembly to comprehensively reform, upgrade and modernise our electoral system and processes. Otherwise, citizens’ right to participate in the governance system will remain a ‘hollow right’.

“Given that the right to vote is considered a part of an individual’s fundamental right to political participation, persistent postponement of elections in the country raises serious questions about the legitimacy and integrity of Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.

“Persistent failure to upgrade and modernise the electoral system has effectively relegated the right of participation to paper tiger status, undermining the ability of citizens to genuinely participate in the fight against corruption and to hold their leaders to account".

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