PEOPLE who sell their votes and politicians who buy from them may be in for rough times in the coming elections in the country as security agencies have been asked to go after them.
Reports of massive Vote Buying and selling vitiated the conduct of the recently held governorship election in Ekiti.
Security agencies, in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), plan to use the September 22, 2018 Osun State governorship election to test-run the resolve to punish vote buying and selling as provided for in the Electoral Act.
Section 130 of the Electoral Act provides that any person who pays for votes or accepts money to vote for a person or political party “commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.”
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in Osun State, Mr Segun Agbaje, told Saturday Tribune in Osogbo that no stone would be left unturned to counter moves by politicians to induce eligible voters with money in the forthcoming election in the state.
“We are in synergy with the Inspector General of Police (IG), Department of State Services (DSS) and heads of other security agencies. Vote buying is not only embarrassing to INEC, it is also embarrassing to security agencies that this type of thing is happening and then we would not be able to identify them and punish them.
“I understand that some people were arrested in Ekiti. In Osun, more attention would be focussed on that area to checkmate vote buying. We are planning seriously at the commission level in Abuja on other measures that could be explored to tackle vote buying. We have not had any challenge so far,” Agbaje.
On INEC’s preparedness for the September 22 governorship election in the Osun State, Agbaje said “the commission in the state is doing its best to ensure that all loose ends are tightened and that we are prepared for the job.
“We also know that last Monday, which was 23rd of this month, the political parties finished their primaries, at the end of which 28 parties were able to successfully conclude their primaries. We have 48 candidates to stand for the election.
“On our own part, we have done a lot in the area of ad-hoc staff. We are expected to have about 15,000 ad-hoc staff. As I am talking to you, we are counting over 13,000, made up of 8,000 from the [National Youth Service Corps] NYSC, 3,000 from the [Obafemi Awolowo University] OAU and about 1,500 from the Federal Polytechnic. Among the federal government establishments in the state, we have also got over 1,000 participants,” Agbaje said.
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On permanent voter cards (PVC), he said over 95 percent of the cards of those who registered had been collected and they were already at the local government level and people were going there to collect them.
“As of now, we just have about 65.9 percent collection. Those that have collected are 1, 099, 934. Those that are yet to collect are about 35.1 percent, which translates to 593,770. By next month, we intend to move to RA or ward level to see that we capture many people for the PVCs collection.
“Some people who have not collected are claiming that local government offices are too far from them. So, if the commission asks us to go to polling units to distribute, we would go and that would be very expensive for the commission. Anytime from the middle of August, we intend to carry our people there to go and distribute the PVCs at ward level,” Agbaje remarked.
Speaking on the training of personnel for the election, the REC said “training of our own staff, including Electoral Officers (EOs) for local government and Assistant Electoral Officers (AEOs), is starting on Monday. All of them will undergo training between Monday and Friday next week. Between 6th and 10th of August, the training of security personnel to be conducted by our people from Abuja will also begin. Our major concern is to have adequate security during the election.
“We are going to identify areas where we are likely to have challenges and by the end of August, we should have been able to start seeing if there is the need for more personnel and motorised patrol in those areas because security personnel would be stationed here in our headquarters, local government offices. We expect to have four security personnel at a polling unit.
“On logistics, we are partnering with the [National Union of Road Transport Workers] NURTW and [Amalgamated Commercial Motorcycle Riders of Nigeria] ACOMORON for the use of motorcycles for areas vehicles cannot reach. We have many of such areas in Atakumosa East, Ife South as well as Ifedayo local government areas. All these areas we are working with ACOMORON to assist in using motorcycles to carry some of our election materials,” Agbaje explained.
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