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Osun 2018: INEC, EFCC join forces against vote buying

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have teamed up in the bid to ensure that vote-buying do not thrive during the Gubernatorial Election tomorrow in Osun State.

This is the outcome of a meeting held yesterday between INEC and EFCC. The meeting was held at EFCC headquarters in Abuja. With the meeting, vote buyers and their prospective customers stand the risk of being arrested and prosecuted, if they are caught in the act tomorrow.

The leader of the INEC Team, Professor Mahmood Yakubu – the INEC Chairman – expressed worries over the spate of buying and selling of votes in Nigeria. He said the commission had put in some measures to curb vote buying. He was however particularly disturbed, that despite the fact that progress has been made in the area of kidnapping of INEC officials and snatching of ballot boxes, vote buying and selling was another challenge the Commission had to contend with.

Professor Yakubu said: “We are here as part of our consultations with critical agencies that are connected to the electoral process. We have undertaken a number of innovations to strengthen the electoral system and these days, you hear less of ballot box snatching and kidnapping of INEC officials. But as we solve one problem, another one is coming up.”

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Furthermore, the INEC Chairman remarked that  “Of immediate concern is the election we are holding on Saturday (September 22) in Osun State and it is going to be the last major election before the 2019 general elections. We have taken steps as a Commission, but we need the support of the EFCC in this respect. Vote buying and selling is earning a bad reputation for our democracy, for our elections and we thought we should visit national institutions like the EFCC because you have the powers under the law to arrest, to investigate, to prosecute and to help us, so we can stem this ugly tide of vote buying and selling.”

Professor Yakubu said that it was sad that in recent times, there had been increasing inducements of voters through electronic transfers directly into the bank accounts of voters with the intent to influence the voting decision of the electorates. “We believe that you have both the law and the capacity on your side to help us in this respect”, he said.

Professor Yakubu solicited the support of EFCC in monitoring the campaign finances of Parties  and their candidates. He said there was a limit to the amount of money that can be spent by candidates for such electioneering activities  in the eye of the Nigerian Law.

Hear him: “As we go into the elections proper in 2019, we also need your support in the area of campaign finance and spending by candidates. The law has prescribed limits as to what candidates can spend in elections but we need the enforcement of these laws. We don’t want the money-bags to determine our democracy. We want the votes of the people to determine who wins in our elections”.

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In his response, the Acting Chaiman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, identified with the worries and challenges that the INEC chairman expressed: “There’s indeed a lot of concern about vote buying and selling. There’s also a lot of concern about the possibility of moneybags trying to derail our democracy and democratic process. We have the mandate to monitor money transfers and we are collaborating with the banks. We have the mandate to arrest, investigate and prosecute and we are going to use the (Osun governorship election) as a test case.”

He thereafter promised that the EFCC would do all within its power to support INEC in the fight against corruption in election matters, saying , “we will work with you. We will do our best.”

Ibrahim Magu appealed to Nigerians to support the EFCC in its fight against corruption in Nigeria, noting that “one way to fight corruption is to stop vote buying and stop voter inducement in elections so that democracy can survive.”

The EFCC Chairman later presented a plaque to the INEC Chairman at the end of the meeting.