Only electoral offences commission can check vote-buying — Situation Room
Nigeria’s Civil Society Situation Room has insisted on the establishment of a National Electoral Offences Commission to prosecute electoral offenders and curb menace of vote-buying in elections.
Situation Room Convener, Ene Obi, who said this in Abuja during a meeting to present the body’s final report on Anambra election, regretted that vote-buying was witnessed in the election.
Obi said in some polling units observed, there was an organised procedure for identifying voters, who cast their votes for a particularly political party to reward them afterwards.
She said: “Party agents were soliciting for votes, and it became a matter of becoming the highest bidder, to gain votes.
“This unfortunate, recurring trend, appears to be deepening in Nigeria’s elections and needs to be addressed with the co-operation of stakeholders involved, including political parties, citizens and security agents.
“Vote-trading has continued to feature in elections and will remain, if perpetrators go unpunished.” Obi maintained that Situation Room also received the report of voters in Anambra State, who bluntly refused to sell their votes, chasing away vote buyers, adding that: “Situation Room is disappointed that perpetrators of this electoral offence were not arrested by security operatives.
“This brings to light the imminent need to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission to prosecute electoral offenders.
We commend the women in Anambra State for rejecting money to sell their votes and going ahead to vote their conscience.”
She said Anambra State governorship election was violence-free and lauded individuals and groups’ commitments at mediating peace to reduce political tension in the state.
She regretted that Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) administration of the election fell short of the expected standard, especially as the commission repeatedly assured of its readiness to conduct a credible election.
She went on: “The introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) is a welcome development. But, election preparations need to be improved upon, to deliver efficiency in its use for the accreditation process.
“Situation Room calls on INEC to make the necessary efforts to adequately prepare for other off-cycle elections scheduled for 2022 in Ekiti and Osun as well as the 2023 general elections.
“Election stakeholders need to critically interrogate the diminishing rate of citizens’ participation in electoral process, with a view to overturning this trend.
“This should be emulated by other citizens, who continue to sell their votes to the highest bidder without drawing the linkages between this act and inability to demand for accountability and better governance from leaders.
“Situation Room enjoins all stakeholders to continue to sustain their efforts and support towards an improved electoral process and deepening democracy in Nigeria.”