Nigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC and the country’s anti-graft watchdog, EFCC and agreed to combine forces against anti democratic element looking to manipulate the outcome of the gubernatorial elections in Osun State.
While both bodies, along side the Nigeria Police have resolve to work together against vote rigging, what is of paramount importance is the issue of vote buying which was taken to a new level at the recently held Ekiti governorship elections where both the PDP and APC were accused of inducing voters with cash.
Speaking recently during a meeting of the heads both the EFCC and INEC, chairman of the electoral body, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said:
“We are here as part of our consultations with critical agencies that are connected to the electoral process.
We have undertaken a number of innovations to strengthen the electoral system and these days, you hear less of ballot box snatching and kidnapping of INEC officials. But as we solve one problem, another one is coming up.”
“Of immediate concern is the election we are holding on Saturday (September 22) in Osun State and it is going to be the last major election before the 2019 general elections. We have taken steps as a Commission, but we need the support of the EFCC in this respect.
“Vote buying and selling is earning a bad reputation for our democracy, for our elections and we thought we should visit national institutions like the EFCC because you have the powers under the law to arrest, to investigate, to prosecute and to help us, so we can stem this ugly tide of vote buying and selling.”
He implored the EFCC to also monitor campaign finances of political parties and their candidates.
“As we go into the elections proper in 2019, we also need your support in the area of campaign finance and spending by candidates.
The law has prescribed limits as to what candidates can spend in elections but we need the enforcement of these laws.
We don’t want the money-bags to determine our democracy. We want the votes of the people to determine who wins in our elections”.
Mr. Magu, who shared the INEC’s Chairman’s worries, said: “There’s indeed a lot of concern about vote buying and selling.
There’s also a lot of concern about the possibility of moneybags trying to derail our democracy and democratic process. We have the mandate to monitor money transfers and we are collaborating with the banks.
“We have the mandate to arrest, investigate and prosecute and we are going to use the (Osun governorship election) as a test case.”
Magu also assured the INEC Chairman: “We will work with you. We will do our best.”