The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday unveiled that it had enlisted anti-corruption agencies to hunt vote buyers during the coming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.
The national chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known during the quarterly consultative meeting with political parties in Abuja.
He also said all election duty officials of the commission would be made to swear to an oath of neutrality before taking part in the process.
Yaubu maintained that the EFCC would help to deal with vote buyers in the election as many of them were arrested during the last general election in parts of the country.
He said the EFCC and the ICPC had been charged with the responsibility of monitoring the movement of cash during the campaigns and on the election day in the two states, noting that whoever is arrested will be charged with the violation of the Electoral Act.
The INEC boss, who said the commission had been engaging stakeholders in the two states ahead of the elections, to prevent violence, added that he would continue on further engagements.
He advised party to ensure their supporters do not ferment trouble during the exercise.
“Given the history of volatile politics in the two states, the commission decided to engage the stakeholders early and also continuously. In addition to several focused engagements, we had major stakeholders’ meetings not long ago in Yenagoa and Lokoja. I was present.
“The tradition of the commission is for the chairman of INEC and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to address stakeholders a few days to the election, but this time, we decided to break the tradition. Over a month to election in the two states, I visited Yenagoa and Lokoja and addressed the stakeholders. I also visited some local governments.
“We plan to have more engagements. On November 7, the IGP and I will be in Bayelsa to address the stakeholders. We’ll repeat the same thing in Lokoja on November 11. Our objective is to speak early and loudly enough to all stakeholders on the necessity for a peaceful conduct during campaigns, on the election day, during collation of results and declaration of winners.
“Campaigns have already begun. The appeal of the commission, once again, to parties is to speak to your candidates and supporters and advise them against hate speech, inciting statements, physical attacks on opponents, destruction of one another’s campaign materials and other sundry violations of the Electoral Act.
“Of course, voter harassment, voter intimidation, including vote buying at polling units constitute violations of the Electoral Act. Prohibition of the use of phones by voters in the voting cubicles is still in force. We are going to deepen our collaboration with the EFCC and the ICPC in this respect. They will keep eyes on the movement of cash during campaigns and on election day.
“On this note, I am very happy to report that during the last general election, suspected vote buyers were arrested across the country by the EFCC. Some have already been arraigned. The latest updates I’ve received indicate that the EFCC has secured the first conviction of a vote buyer in Gombe State. This surely is a welcomed development.
“Similarly, about two weeks ago, the commission received some case files from the Nigeria Police of suspected offenders during the 2019 general election. We are studying the case files for further action. We have consistently warned all officials of the commission to remain neutral and professional. All election duty workers will swear to an oath of neutrality, as required by law.”
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