Inducement may undermine electorate’s choices, INEC chairman raises the alarm

Posted by News Express | 20 December 2022 | 333 times

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•INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu


The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has again expressed concern over the financial inducement of eligible voters at polling units during the election.

The INEC Chairman raised the alarm on Monday while presenting his address at a one-day Stakeholders Summit on addressing the influence of money in the 2023 general elections in Abuja.

Yakubu who noted that voters’ inducement undermines their judgment to make the right choices also observed that it was also inimical to free, peaceful elections as the same desperate politicians instigate violence by financing thuggery.

He said: “We are gathered here today to address a matter of serious concern to most Nigerians. The negative role of money in elections goes to the very heart of our democracy. It destroys the very basis of democratic elections which is that citizens should freely choose those who exercise power on their behalf. It renders the emergence of the right candidates for positions extremely difficult, undermines fair electoral adjudication, and destroys the professional and independent conduct of INEC officials and other public agencies involved in elections. Even more worrisome is the high prospect that criminal money may find its way into our elections through money laundering.

“Above all, the pernicious use of money tremendously increases the likelihood of election violence due to a “win at all costs” mentality among contestants who would have invested a fortune in election. Surely, election is not a business venture for profit. Instead, it is an application to serve the people with the understanding that they may prefer someone else on one occasion. But then, there would be an opportunity to reapply after four years. Citizens’ choices must never be subverted by the negative use of money,” he lamented.

The INEC Chairman listed proactive measures taken by his commission to mitigate vote buying to include, “the slight reconfiguration of our Polling Units to bring the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles to discourage the exposure of the marked ballot papers by voters to vote buyers. We also banned the use of smartphones and photographic devices by voters in the voting cubicles. Yet, these measures have recorded limited success.”

National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council who incidentally is the presidential candidate of the Action Democratic Party, Yusuf Yagbagi Sani, spoke in a similar vein as maintained that the influence of money could frustrate free, fair election.

“If the use of money is allowed free reign, the elections can’t be free, fair and credible. If steps aren’t taken the 2023 general elections will be everything but free, fair and credible because of the influence of money. The stakes are high because there are desperate politicians who will use money to influence and subvert the wishes of the electorate devoid of the corrosive influence of money; IPAC is convinced that INEC will deliver on free, fair, credible election.”

Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Hajia Hadiza Gamawa, cautioned Nigerians not to be swayed by candidates with deep pockets but lacking in integrity.

“Votes must be cast on the depth of strength of character, not depth of pocket. We must change the narrative of poor recruitment process,” he added.

Bawa also advised political parties and their candidates to be willing to disclose source of their campaign fund.

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Awasanoye, described vote-buying as another form of coup d’etat.

“Procured mandate is equal to a coup d’etat, because the process has been flawed. That’s a manipulation of the outcome by financial inducement. Vote buying is beyond a matter of perception, it is real and blatant.

“A government that comes to offices through vote buying is emboldened to indulge in impunity because he is not accountable to the people. Corruption will thrive because his mandate is procured,” he said.

Director General of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, Modibbo Tukur, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) for its new policy as he noted that the apex bank initiative has helped to remove money from the electoral process and helping with security.

“We congratulate the CBN and security agencies. We know candidates who have capacity to spend money; we will monitor and flag them. We don’t arrest but we will report them,” he explained.

He further dropped the hint that the agency in collaboration with other agencies would sustain its surveillance around certain presidential candidates who are known as high net worth individuals.

“We know candidates who have capacity to spend money; we will monitor and flag them. We don’t arrest but we will report them,” he added.

Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, who was represented by DIG, Operations, Alhaji Bala Ciroma assured that the Police was determined to deal with apprehended culprits of votes buying.

“Concerted efforts are being made by the Nigeria police as the lead agency in electoral security management to ensure that the use of money is not allowed to influence the 2023 general elections or at least ensure that this menace is brought to the barest minimum.

“We will achieve this in synergy with sister security agencies, anti-graft and intelligence agencies and other stakeholders.

“The result of this synergy has started yielding positive results as a lot of arrest have been made especially of persons buying voter registration cards as prelude to rigging the elections.

“Some political thugs have also been arrested and are being prosecuted in courts of competent jurisdiction. We will also ensure that the police X-squad, intelligence officers and investigators are moved to the field to ensure that politicians moving on election days with tonnes of physical cash for vote buying are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law.

“We have also deployed intelligence officers who will get embedded in the crowd during political rallies to identify with precision persons encouraging or perpetrating violence.

“Let me state again emphatically that the use of money during the 2023 elections is unacceptable and we will do all we can within the confines of the law to bring offending persons to book. Therefore, all hands are on deck and all the relevant security agencies are in synergy on this,” the IGP insisted.  (Nigerian Tribune)

Source: News Express

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