The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ekiti State has disclosed that it has entered into a partnership with anti-corruption agencies to arrest vote buyers and sellers at Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The electoral agency revealed that it has been empowered by the Electoral Act to ensure the arrest and prosecution of offenders of vote selling and vote buying who are liable to imprisonment and a N1 million fine on conviction by the court of law.
The INEC Public Affairs Officer in the state, Mrs. Rolake Odebunmi who disclosed this on a radio programme monitored by our correspondent explained that the electoral agency was well-prepared to ensure the success of Saturday’s poll.
The State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Sunday Abutu, who also appeared on the programme, also declared its readiness for election duty on Saturday calling on the people of the state to be law-abiding and not be involved in any illegal activities or violence.
But the INEC spokesperson revealed that the electoral body has entered into a partnership with both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to combat vote buying and selling on election day.
Odebunmi noted that the Electoral Act has now empowered INEC to prosecute anybody caught in the act of buying and selling votes on election day saying those arrested would be transferred to Abuja for further investigation and prosecution.
To further curb electoral malpractices at polling stations, Odebunmi explained that the structure and layout at polling units would change at the coming election as voting cubicles would be arranged in such a way to prevent party agents from moving near voters to see how they voted on the ballot papers.
The INEC official counselled voters not to be lured with N5,000 or N10,000 into committing an offence whose penalty is jail or N1 million fine, urging all stakeholders in the electoral process to combat what she called “the pandemic of vote buying.”
She said: “The structure and layout at polling units will be different this time around just to curb vote buying even though politicians will try to find their way to carry out the act. Vote buying and selling is a criminal offence and we are going to be more decisive henceforth.
“We will have ICPC and EFCC operatives on ground and they have arranged for each polling unit. I believe our arrangements will curb vote buying which is very common to women and our people in the grassroots.
“The Electoral Act has empowered us to deal with anybody caught; the Electoral Act has empowered us to prosecute them. It is N1 million fine or imprisonment or both on conviction and those arrested will not be kept at Okesa (Ado Ekiti), they will be taken out of the state to Abuja.”
The state Police Spokesperson, DSP Abutu, disclosed that adequate deployment would be made to ensure security for electoral officials, equipment, observers and voters on election day to facilitate a hitch-free exercise.
DSP Abutu said the Force Headquarters in Abuja and the Zonal Command in Akure would assist the State Command with deployment while the boundaries with neighbouring states would be monitored and policed to prevent any incidence of the breakdown of law and order.
He also explained that the state command would be collaborating with sister security agencies urging the electorate to come out in their numbers and vote on election day without any fear or apprehension.
DSP Abutu also hinted at the readiness of the police to enforce the Electoral Act to check vote buying and selling warning party officials, members and the voting public against involvement in the act
He said: “We are going out in full force to enforce the Electoral Act to tackle vote buying and selling. Our people have been enlightened that vote buying is a criminal offence and I don’t know why any voter will collect N5,000 or N10,000 as a reward for four years. Anybody arrested that day will face the full wrath of the law.”
The police image maker called on the people of the state to cooperate with security agencies on election duty, revealing that some dedicated phone numbers that would serve as election situation hotlines on security issues would be rolled out forty eight hours before the poll.
Elecetion: EFCC, ICPC coming after vote buyers, sellers in Ekiti- INEC warns