Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has expressed concern over reported cases of vote buying.
The CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, said on Friday in a statement that less than 24 hours to the opening of polls for the Kogi State governorship election, CDD accredited and trained observers have recorded incidences of vote buying in parts of the state.
“Already, our observers have noted the distribution of gift items such as Ankara textile materials and rice in Lokoja and Koton Karfe Local Government Areas. In addition, the latest reports we are receiving from our observers indicate massive inducement of INEC Supervising Presiding Officers (SPO) across the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
“The reports indicate that one of the parties have made overtures, and has been inducing the SPOs with bribes USD1,000 to buy them over, and get them (the SPOs) to do their bidding on Election Day. These reports were further confirmed from Bureau de Change (BDC) Operators within the State who were interviewed,” Hassan said.
According to her, the BDC operators report that there are has been an upsurge in the number of customers calling to change USD1000 to Naira.
She said the use of financial inducement to subvert the credibility of the electoral process is antithetical to the democratic ethos.
She said, “CDD condemns in the strongest possible terms all forms of inducement of poll officials. The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) expressly frowns at bribery and all forms of inducement of poll officials.
Specifically,Section 124(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended states: “Any person who commits the offence of bribery is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for 12 months or both”.
She urged the anti-corruption agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to thoroughly investigate these reports in order to hold to account the perpetrators of these electoral crimes.
The CDD therefore urged the EFCC, ICPC and the police to closely monitor financial transactions with a view to arresting all suspects inducing voters and/or electoral officials.
“INEC should fine tune its monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all compromised electoral officials are removed from the process immediately. The good people of Kogi State should be aware that if they sell their votes, they are mortgaging their future and compromising the possibility of good governance for their own benefits,” she said.