Politicians and their agents are responsible for the large scale malpractices and widespread violence that marred the 2019 general elections.
This was the submission of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu; Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba among other stakeholders.
They spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at the Forum of Anti-corruption Situation Room organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).
In a keynote address, Yakubu said vote buying and selling have become a source of great worry to the Commission, the Nigerian people and the international community.
The INEC chair, who was represented by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, narrated how politicians and their agents devised various methods to compromise the electoral process.
According to him, one of the methods employed by the politicians and their agents was to buy up Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) of registered voters in the political “safe haven” of their opponents before the day of election.
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He also accused them of compromising security agents and some ad hoc staff of INEC who looked the other way while votes were being bought and sold.
Yakubu said some political money bags bought over agents of other political parties who compromised and betrayed their own political parties for money.
The INEC chairman also cited situations where voters were made to surrender their PVCs to middlemen as a precondition for assessing government amenities and facilities in their localities.
“Politicians compromised traditional and religious leaders and community leaders by persuading them to persuade voters in their domains to vote in a particular way. “In some instances, they persuaded willing ad hoc staff to abandon the use of Smart Card Readers and provision of social amenities close to Election Day,” Yakubu added.
The INEC chief charged the various Election Petitions Tribunals to prosecute proven cases of electoral offences pending the establishment of a designated body for that purpose.
Acting IGP Adamu said police personnel on election duty were constrained by the law, which prevented them from bearing firearms around voting areas.
The IGP, who was represented by Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Peter Ogunyanwo, said this made it impossible for police personnel on election duties to confront heavily armed political thugs who attacked voters and disrupted voting at polling centres in different parts of the country during the 2019 elections.
He lamented politicians lacked patriotism, nationalism and the fear of God in their conduct during elections. He lamented politicians, who he described as beneficiaries of electoral malpractices, lacked the required will and patriotism to put in place the needed electoral reforms.
According to him, measures prescribed by law to punish electoral offenders.
Source: Naija News