By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has appealed to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to help in paying particular attention to the practice of vote buying at polling units.
Prof Yakubu, who made the appeal on Wednesday while playing host to the IGP at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, declared that the issue of vote buying at polling units has become extremely worrisome to the commission.
While further describing the practice as a violation of the electoral act as well as a malpractice, the INEC Chairman told the IGP that he has the responsibility to ensure that the practice is stopped forthwith.
He declared that the nation’s democracy can never be on sale to the highest bidder, saying “ours is a democracy and not a plutocracy for the rich”.
The commission, Yakubu said, will be happy if the police will deploy Special Forces beginning with Ekiti and Osun governorship elections to ensure that what transpires at the polling units is nothing but the will of Nigerians.
In his words of the INEC Chairman, “There is something that is extremely worrisome to INEC and that is open vote buying at polling units. We have seen that in more recent elections.
“This is a violation of the electoral act, it is a malpractice and you have the responsibility to ensure that this practice is stopped forthwith. “Our democracy can never be on sale to the highest bidder, ours is a democracy and not a plutocracy for the rich.
“Therefore I would like to appeal to the IGP, as we approach the EKiti and Osun governorship elections and as we move towards the 2019 general elections, to pay particular attention to this disturbing practice.
“We will be happy if the police will deploy Special Forces beginning with Ekiti and Osun to ensure that what transpires at the polling units is nothing but the will of Nigerians.
“Only the votes cast freely by citizens would determine who wins the elections not the inducement of citizens by the use of cash at polling units during elections.
“I am confident that given the level of cooperation and synergy we have with the police, this matter will be addressed”, he said.
The INEC Chairman informed the IGP that the Ekiti governorship election will hold on the 14th of July 2018 while the Osun governorship election would hold on the 22nd of September, 2018.
The Police are the lead agency for election security, it is essentially responsible for securing the environment for the commission to deploy and to conduct free and fair elections.
“As was done by the Commission in major elections in Kogi, Edo, Bayelsa, Ondo Anambra and the FCT, in Ekityi and Osun, we will also conduct the Voter Registration at the Ward level not at the centres where we are holding the CVR currently.
“For the two states, the exercise would be holding simultaneously from the 11th to the 16th of April 2018. “We will make available further details, not just for the centres where the CVR would hold but also of centres where elections would be conducted, they will then do a threat assessment and then we will hold further discussions”, he stated.
Earlier, the IGP, Ibrahim Idris had stated that he was in INEC in a continuous synergy and cooperation between the police force, as a lead agency to know the conduct of these elections and officers of INEC.