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Osun Decides 2018: INEC to fight vote buying in Osun election
THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it plans to use the Osun governorship election, which is set for September 22, to make a strong statement against vote buying in preparation for the 2019 general election.
The Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this at an election dialogue organized by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA) tagged Ending the Scourge of Vote Buying and Selling in Nigerian Election at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.
Yakubu noted that the challenge of vote buying was not just worrisome to the Commission but also the entire country. He described the issue of vote buying in Nigeria as cancer, a menace, and a shame to the electoral process.
“We will overcome vote buying just as we have risen above previous challenges to our electoral processes,” he affirmed.
Yakubu said polling units would be organized in such a way that it would be impossible for voters to expose their ballot papers to agents of the vote buyers.
“This action will address infractions that happen at the polling units. Some of the infractions take place at the polling units while some outside the polling unit on election day. Some even take place before elections through cash transfer,” he said.
Likewise, the INEC boss announced that the use of mobile phones and other devices in the polling cubicles would be banned, adding that the Commission would create strategies to sensitize citizens on vote buying and selling in elections.
In addition to the above measures, Yakubu also called on various stakeholders including, security agencies, political parties, civil society organizations, the media and citizens to tackle the rising phenomenon of vote buying and selling.
“We all have to come together to address this challenge. The truth is that buyers and sellers know that they are committing illegality but nobody comes out to say I am a vote buyer or I am a vote seller,” he said.
He urged the security agencies to cooperate with the Commision to arrest vote buyers and sellers, pointing out that the law empowers INEC to prosecute the vote traders, but lacked the capacity to arrest and investigative offenders.
Similarly, he said INEC would continue to work with anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offenses Commission (ICPC) to track and prosecute offenders who explore the electronic cash transfer strategy to undermine the electoral process.
The INEC chairman assured the people of Osun and other Nigerians that only the people’s vote would continue to determine the outcome of elections in the country.