MEDIA observers have reported an alarming level of vote-buying in the ongoing Ekiti State gubernatorial election.
A statement collectively signed by media organisations – The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID); International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR); Premium Times; Daily Trust Newspaper; Roundoffnews; and Orient Daily – fingered party agents as the perpetrators of the illegal act.
The statement said, “There has been an alarming amount of vote-buying recorded by our observers. From bargaining prices for votes to payments made in uncompleted buildings and bags of foodstuff being shared after votes have been cast.
“Unfortunately, party agents have been identified to be at the centre of this electoral offence.
“We would like to remind Nigerians about the value of their votes and implore citizens of Ekiti to not engage in selling their votes in order to secure their democratic future.”
The mid-day statement signed by the media observers warned party stalwarts to stop conniving with security personnel to influence the votes in favour of their candidates.
The statement noted that vote-buying and voter intimidation were electoral offences punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
Drawing data from the Election Analysis Centre run by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CIJD), the statement revealed that a total of 28 observers throughout the 16 Local Government Areas of the state were deployed as early as 7:00 am on June 18, 2022.
The media observers applauded the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in ensuring that materials and personnel were deployed on time, adding the elections were prompt, peaceful and with fewer complaints over the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
The statement listed Polling Units (PU) 003, Ward 09 (Iluomoba) LG in Gbonyin; PU 004, Ward 1, Irepodun Ifelodun LGA; PU: 008 Near Onisa House, Ward 2, Odo Ise, Iṣẹ/Orun as the places where elderly persons, pregnant women, and parents with children were deprived of priority voting.
The media organisations in the same vein urged the general public to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, noting that there was a low level of adherence.
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