Vote-buying: INEC to ban use of mobile phones

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will ban the use of mobile phones at voting centres to check the incidences of vote buying.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this yesterday when he received the acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Musa Abubakar, said this was based on reports that sometimes voters take picture of the vote cast and later send to those who would buy the votes.

He assured that votes of the people would continue to determine who wins in elections, adding that the commission was focusing more on the processes leading to that outcome.

“The outcome of any election is in the hand of the voters, but we are responsible in ensuring that the processes lead to free and credible elections,” he said.
According to him, INEC was taking measures to ensure that votes were not bought, particularly on election days.

“We have said that we are going to review the administration of our polling units in such a way that it will be difficult for citizens who voted to expose their marked ballot papers before dropping them into ballot boxes.

“I will like to speak to the citizens that whenever they see violations of Electoral Act they should quickly report to those using our toll free number under our ICCC (INEC Citizens Contact Centre) platform so that we can quickly respond.

“At the state level, we are going to provide situation room in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, which will provide the same access to officials of the commission on Election Day whenever citizens witness any violation on electoral act.

“Going forward in Osun, the commission is setting up an inter-agency collaborative framework against vote-buying and over spending beyond what Electoral Act stipulates to campaign for the votes of citizens.

“This inter-agency framework will include the cooperation and active participation of EFCC, ICPC and the security agencies, particularly the police and Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA).
“Soon after Osun State election, the commission will unveil that framework for collaborative framework aimed to further sanitise our election processes,” Yakubu said.

He said that in doing so, the commission needed the collaboration of the citizens to report any cases of electoral violation through the commission’s Situation Room and free toll line.
The ICPC Chairman said that the commission was willing to work with the election management body to curb the ugly trend of vote-buying.

Abubakar added that the ICPC was empowered to deal with all cases of corruption, including those committed during elections.

“Our law, the ICPC Act, empowers ICPC to investigate and prosecute any person involved in any act of bribery and corruption under any law that prohibits corruption.

“I believe Electoral Act also provides a lot of sections that deal with corruption.

“So, vote-buying is one of the corrupt practices under both our law and Electoral Act.
“That is why the main reason for this visit is to identify with the commission and the general public on the issue of vote-buying.

“We assure you that the ICPC is ever ready to partner with INEC to ensure that this trend is totally eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum,” he assured.

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