By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has asked the Nigerian Police to deploy its special forces in polling units to arrest partisans who engage in vote buying during elections.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who made the request Wednesday in Abuja when the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris paid a call on him said the deployment should begin with the forthcoming governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States.
“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 Ekiti 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 CVVR would hold but also of centres where elections would be conducted, the will then do a threat assessment and then we will hold further discussions under the auspices ICCESS ahead of the major elections in the two states.
“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 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 to 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”, Yakubu said.
Speaking further, he said “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. In the case of the Ekiti governorship election, based on the timetable that was released by the commission, the notice of the election will be posted on the 4th of April 2018. And thereafter, campaigns by political parties in Ekiti will commence on the 15th of April, while the Conduct of Party Primaries will take place simultaneously with the commencement of campaigns from the 15th of April to 14th of May. The election proper will hold on July the 14th.
“In the case of Osun Governorship election, the notice of election will be pasted on the 23rd of June 2018, campaigns will commence on the 24th of June 2018 while the conduct of party primaries for the selection of candidates by political parties would hold between the 24th of June to the 23rd of July. From the timetable we released, there would be overlaps, while campaign will commence in ekiti on the 15th of April, campaign in Osun would commence on the 24th of June but the Ekiti election is holding on the 14th of July while the Osun election will hold on the 24th of September. Some of the vital statistics for the two states: elections in Ekiti would hold in all the 16 LGAs of the state, across 177 wards and 2195 Polling Units. In Osun, the elections would hold in each of the 30 LGAs and 332 wards, and 3010 PUs”.
On his part, the IGP, Ibrahim Idris pledged to work with INEC to deliver on its mandate.