The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a message to President Muhammadu Buhari.
SERAP urged Buhari to ensure the arrest of politicians buying permanent voter cards (PVCs) from poor Nigerians.
The group urged the President to "urgently direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to identify and arrest politicians who are allegedly buying permanent voter cards (PVCs) from poor Nigerians, and promptly bring them to justice".
SERAP also urged Buhari to "ensure that the politicians and their sponsors who are suspected to be involved in these grave electoral and human rights crimes are named and shamed, regardless of their political affiliations."
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently alleged that some politicians are buying PVCs from poor Nigerians across the country. The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has corroborated the allegations, reportedly stating that some politicians are buying PVCs with N2,000 in the north.
In the letter dated December 17, 2022, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: "Buying of PVCs from poor Nigerians is a threat to fair and representative elections, as it amounts to vote buying, undue influence and improper electoral influence.
"The allegations that politicians and their sponsors are buying PVCs from poor Nigerians are grave violations of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, and the country's international anti-corruption and human rights obligations.”
SERAP noted that the “right to vote is central to the enjoyment of other basic human rights but the right will have little meaning if politicians and their sponsors continue to buy PVCs and get away with their crime against the Nigerian people".
The letter further read in part: "We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 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."
"The buying of PVCs from poor Nigerians and the resulting deprivation of the right to participation would completely compromise the legitimacy of representative government.
"Investigating, identifying, naming and shaming those suspected to be involved in these criminal acts of vote-buying and undue influence, and bringing them to justice would promote the people's right to vote, and public trust and confidence in the electoral process," it said.
It noted that swift action “to address the brazen impunity and allegations of politicians purchasing PVCs from poor Nigerians would also send a strong message to politicians that your government would not tolerate any infringement of the electoral process ahead of the 2023 general elections".