By Angela Atabo
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Polling Unit Ambassadors of Nigeria (PUAN), an NGO, will strategise to effectively police the polling units to tackle vote buying during the 2023 elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu while receiving PUAN members after a roadwalk tagged “Operation Don’t Sell Don’t Buy Votes , at the Commission commended the initiative.
Yakubu represented by Mr David Mabadeje ,Senior Officer ,Voter Education Department, said vote trading is a cancer to Nigeria’s elections and stakeholders needed to work together to stamp it out.
According to him,INEC is deeply worried about a situation whereby political agents woo voters with cash during elections .
“In view of its negative effect on the electoral process INEC will continue to collaborate with security agencies in identifying, arresting and prosecuting both givers and recievers of cash inducement at the 2023 elections.
“The commission has come up with strategies and techniques that made sure that people do not enter the voting compartments with their mobile phones that can take pictures.
“We are also collaborating with different security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to make sure that plain clothe security personnel is deployed to stem the issue of vote buying and selling.
“”INEC shall further strategise with security agencies for a more robust response to the arrest and prosecution of vote traders and the commission will also continue to encourage and engage with groups like PUAN on more effective voter education.”
Yakubu said it had become imperative for Nigeria to establish an Electoral Offence Commission to collaborate with INEC to check electoral fraud and other related crimes .
He added this would also help in getting the actual sponsors of persons who snatch ballots at the polling units ,the person who manipulates election results and people who trade votes at the polling units .
Mr Osa Osaghae ,Secretary General of PUAN, said the NGO is worried over vote trading and is committed to exposing the perpetrators for arrest and prosecution.
Osaghae said the handling over of the Red flag to the INEC was an indication that Nigerians were ready to put an end to vote trading.
“This is a red flag that says no to vote buying and vote selling on behalf of all Nigerians who are craving for vote credibility and wishing that in 2023 their votes will count.
“On behalf of Nigerians who are looking forward to a brighter future for our nation conceing our electoral process, we the members of PUAN are here today to present this red flag to INEC to say vote buying for 2023 is a red flag.”
Osaghae commended the good work of INEC and urged the commission to continue to build the confidence of Nigerians to ensure free,fair and credible polls in 2022.(NAN)