-Poised to curb vote-buying
By Emeka Nze
Preparatory to 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has engaged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to assist it in tracking political parties’ sources of funding.
INEC, has in recent times, decried the flagrant breach of the relevant sections of the 2010 Electoral Law (as amended) which bars candidates and parties from expending in excess of stipulated campaign funds during elections.
INEC also enjoined the EFCC to assist the the electoral body to curb the spate of open vote buying by politicians and the political parties at polling stations during elections, .
Yakubu, who made this remark on Thursday when the EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, visited the commission, warned that the commission can no longer tolerate the spate of open vote buying by politicians during elections.
According to the INEC chairman, Nigerians possess the inalienable right to vote for whoever they wish without being induced stressing that Nigeria’s democracy must not be on sale at the open market.
The INEC boss said: “As we approach the 2019 general elections, Mr. Chairman, we require the support of your commission essentially in two ways. One, INEC is worried by the recent trend of open votes buying at polling stations, that candidates and parties storm polling stations with sacks and sacks of money to induce voters. Votes of citizens and only votes of citizens should determine who wins in an election.
“Our democracy must never be on sale at the open market! It is the will of the people that should determine who wins. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we look forward to be working very closely with the EFCC to ensure that open vote buying will not be tolerated by the commission.
“And we don’t want the 2019 general elections to be determined by the amount of money people have and they can go round on election day to buy people’s vote. It is the right of Nigerians to vote for whoever, and that right must be upheld by INEC.
“And the second area is again relating to finances. This time around it is about party and campaign finance. The Electoral Act places limit as to the amount parties and individuals can spend on elections, and also the amount that friends of candidates and parties can contribute in any election.
“We will like the EFCC, which both the mandate and the capacity to track and trace sources of fund to work very closely with us so that we can operate within the limit of the law. Our democracy can never be on sale and it must never be on the open marker, and I believe that by working very closely with the EFCC we can achieve that.
The INEC chairman assured that his commission would remain an unbiased umpire adding that INEC “will not work for any candidate or party, we will not work against any candidate or party. We are here to work for Nigerian people.”
Yakubu also noted that based on the outcome of the 2015 general elections, commission received a report from the EFCC which caused the commission to interdict 205 staff which he said was the largest ever in the history of INEC.
The INEC chairman also told the EFCC chairman that his commission promoted 7,330 staff conscientious hardworking staff.
While informing the EFCC chairman that INEC staff work under extreme pressure, he noted that in the last one year, the commission lost 85 of its staff, disclosing that another staff of INEC on Wednesday suffered stroke resulting from stress and is now hospitalised. Responding, EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu expressed readiness to work with INEC pointing out that corruption is a disaster and cancer damaging the nation.He called on all Nigerians to join hands in the fight against corruption.