By Emmanuel Elebeke
Less than 24 hours to the opening of polls for the November 16, 2019, Kogi State Governorship election, the Centre for Democracy Development, CDD says there are indications that a lot of money has been set aside for vote-buying on Saturday.
A report from CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC) issued on Friday indicated already there has been the distribution of gift items such as Ankara textile materials and rice in Lokoja and Koton Karfe Local Government Areas of the state.
In a statement signed by the CDD Director, Idayat Hassan, the organization said accredited and trained observers have been keeping a close watch on the electoral process stating that ‘there are indications that a lot of money has been set aside for vote-buying on Saturday’.
In addition, CDD said the latest reports received from their observers indicate massive inducement of INEC Supervising, Presiding Officers (SPO) across the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
The reports further 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.
‘‘The BDC operators report that there has been an upsurge in the number of customers calling to change USD1000 to Naira.
‘‘The use of financial inducement to subvert the credibility of the electoral process is antithetical to the democratic ethos.
‘‘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,” said CDD.
It called on 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.
CDD also charged EFCC, ICPC and the police to closely monitor financial transactions with a view to arresting all suspects inducing voters and/or electoral officials, urging INEC to fine-tune its monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all compromised electoral officials are removed from the process immediately.
To Kogi voters, it advised them to be aware that “if they sell their votes, they are mortgaging their future and compromising the possibility of good governance for their own benefits.”