Independent National Electoral Commission says it’s not part of its job to prevent vote-buying during an election.
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun State, Prof Abdulganiy Raji, stated this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Daily Sunrise programme, on the menace of vote-buying ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial election in the state.
Recall that last month’s governorship election in Ekiti State was marred with massive buying and selling of votes.
On Wednesday, Head of Secretariat, National Peace Committee, Rev. Fr. Atta Barkindo, said Nigerians should be concerned about vote-buying during elections in the country.
Barkindo raised the alarm that voters in Osun were already waiting to sell their votes during the election, lamenting that poverty had gripped the larger majority of Nigerians.
Speaking on Thursday on the menace, the INEC REC for Osun said, “As far as vote-buying is concerned, let me tell you that INEC can not prevent vote-buying. We can only make efforts to ensure that people are discouraged from doing it through voter education and sensitisation which we have been doing extensively.
“Vote-buying and selling is a criminal offence and INEC is not a security agency that can actually make arrests. We can only inform the security agents when it [vote-buying] is taking place. Then, they (the perpetrators) will be arrested and prosecution will take place where we will be joined.
“I am always surprised when people are talking about vote-buying and selling and they expect INEC to be able to stop it, an act that has nothing to do with the mandate of the management of an election.
“The people that are involved in vote-buying and selling are actually those that should be addressed.”
But Raji assured that INEC would work with other critical stakeholders to curb the menace of vote-buying in Nigeria’s elections.
Unlike what obtained during the Ekiti governorship election, the Osun State REC said INEC had made a new design for the placement of the voting cubicles as part of efforts to discourage election rigging.
He further said security agents should arrest voters who refuse to fold their ballot papers after thumb printing.