The National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Tuesday called on Nigerians not to engage in vote-buying and selling in the forthcoming general elections, saying they must regard their votes as priceless.
The Director General of NOA, Malam Garba Abari made the call in a message to the flag off of North West sensitization campaign against vote-buying and selling, organized by the Agency in Kaduna.
“The incidence of vote-buying and selling has assumed an alarming dimension that it has become one of the greatest threats to the electoral process and capable of truncating democracy.
“It is in this concern that NOA is taking this campaign to curb the menace among politicians and electorates who are the major actors,” he said.
Abari, who was represented by Amina Elelu-Ahmed, said NOA had mobilised its staff in the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory to carry out mass voter education on three critical issues.
The issues he said include the challenge of void votes, peaceful conduct during the election and the problem of vote-buying.
The NOA director general urged the electorates to resist the temptation of selling their votes and politicians to desist from the negative habit, stressing that vote-buying and selling are punishable offences.
“Selling your vote for whatever amount is a great loss, selling your votes is selling your right, freedom and your future and that of your children; it is also selling the dividend of democracy for the next four years.
“Remember, Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 has stipulated punishment for vote-buying and selling, as 12 months imprisonment or N100,000 fine or both.”
Earlier,the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kaduna State, Abdullahi Kaugama said that the commission had taken necessary measures to minimising communication between voters and buyers at polling stations.
“No one would be allowed to go outside the polling booth; accreditation and voting will be simultaneously done. You cannot vote without your Permanent Voter Card and there will be no phone at the voting point,” he explained.
He urged Nigerians to support the Independent National Electoral Commission by abiding with the electoral rules so as to ensure free and fair elections.
Politicians, security agents, youth corps members, traditional rulers, religious leaders, government agencies and others attended the event.(NAN)