By Heritage Nnamdi
The Independent National Election Commission has made it clear that it will be dogged to pursue individuals who support electoral fraud in Nigeria.
This information was given by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in his opening remarks at a retreat on the off-cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states on Wednesday in Lagos.
Yakubu claimed that the action was essential because people who steal vote boxes or tamper with election results are not likely to run for office in such elections.
He listed a few potential stumbling blocks to the 2023 general elections, including voter turnout, the number of polling places, security concerns, and election staff. He maintained that if the sponsors were not detained, electoral fraud would continue.
Prior to the start of political party campaigns, the INEC chief added that the commission would confer with the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee, stressing that the significance of the elections necessitates lengthy talks with all parties.
Yakubu argued for creating the commission and tribunal of an electoral offence because the commission was powerless to detain or prosecute offenders.
He added that the arrest of sponsors of electoral offenders would aid in addressing vote buying, ballot snatching, and the manipulation of election results.
He said, “Vote buying is a violation of the Electoral Act. It is against the laws of this country. We will continue to do what we can through voter education to discourage vote buying.
“We will continue to work with anti-graft agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission to checkmate that. We will also work with the security agencies to discourage, apprehend and prosecute vote buyers at the polling units.
“We must get the actual sponsors. The person who snatches the ballot papers at the polling units, the person who falsifies election results, and the person who buys votes at the polling units is unlikely to be a candidate in the elections. If these sponsors are not arrested, the issues will continue and the best antidote is the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal.”