CIVIL society organisations based in Ekiti State have called in the National Assembly to urgently review the electoral act to make vote-buying during elections a criminal offence which would attract jail term in the country.
A coalition of Ekiti-based CSOs which addressed newsmen in Ado Ekiti, on Monday, said this would make Nigeria have elections that would meet international standard.
The groups namely New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and Centre for Social Justice, Good Health and Community Development (CSJGHCD), at the joint press conference to present their report on the July 14th governorship election in the state, recommended that political parties engaged in paying for votes should be sanctioned.
At the press conference jointly addressed by the NISD Executive Director, Abiodun Oyeleye and FIDA Programme Officer, Blessing Ajileye, on Monday, contended that INEC improved in the conduct of the election compared to previous elections.
The coalition said the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to set the machinery in motion to ensure that such review is carried out before the 2019 general election so as to make the country’s election attain global reckoning.
The groups in their report on the July 14 Ekiti governorship election, said INEC and the security agencies did well in the conduct of the election.
According to Oyeleye, who delivered the report, the groups exonerated the police of complicity in the votes buying syndrome, saying chasing the perpetrators around the polling units might distract them from the fundamental function of protecting the election materials, electorate and INEC workers during the election.
They said: “The election represented the will of the people of Ekiti State, with the exception of votes buying we noticed. Many of those who cast their votes were willing to be bought. Some even waited at the polling units waiting for the highest bidder. And our observation showed that all parties were culpable of this.
“We recommend effective sanctions for political parties who engage in the inducement of voters to curb the ugly menace and this can only happen when the National Assembly review the existing laws.
“If you sell your votes, you can’t be expecting good roads, good healthcare delivery among others, because you have made politicians to see elections as investments.
“To help the INEC in this regard, governments must prioritise the welfare of the people. A situation whereby salaries and pensions are not paid for as long as seven or eight months can make people vulnerable to votes buying on election day.”
They said the five security men per polling unit structure deployed for the conduct of the poll checkmated the incidences of ballot snatching that had been identified to be the greatest impediment of electioneering in the past.
Oyeleye applauded the INEC for prompt arrival of materials at the polling units, saying accreditation and voting commenced in most polling units in Ekiti as early as 8.00am.
The Ekiti FIDA boss, Ajileye, praised the security agencies, INEC and electorate for giving out their best for the success of the election.
She added that the 85 per cent of the smart card readers deployed in Ekiti were functional, saying this also added to the credibility of the election.
The FIDA chief urged the public to discountenance the allegation that the security and INEC connived and fabricated figures in favour of a political party.
The post Ekiti-based CSOs want N/Assembly to make vote-buying criminal offence appeared first on Tribune.