Vote Buying: Police, ICPC, EFCC Vow To Arrest Politicians On Election Day
The Nigeria Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have agreed to work together in the 2023 general election to ensure vote buying does not occur.
The security agency, in collaboration with the anti-graft and intelligence agencies, warned that it would arrest any politician involved in the corruptible act at polling units or any location throughout the elections.
Naija News understands that the warning was issued on Monday when the heads of the agencies met at a summit organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in collaboration with the National Broadcasting Commission and others.
The summit was in line with the Federal Government’s resolve to ensure strict compliance with financial laws during campaigns and elections.
Police Devising Strategies To Prosecute Politicians
In his address at the summit, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, said the force had devised strategies to arrest and prosecute any politicians moving on election days with tonnes of cash for vote buying.
Baba said the police, as the lead agency in electoral security management, is making concerted efforts to ensure that the use of money is not allowed to influence the 2023 general elections.
“We will ensure that, at least, this menace is brought to the barest minimum. We will achieve this in synergy with sister security agencies, anti-graft and intelligence agencies, and other stakeholders,” he said.
Represented by Assistant Inspector General of Police, Operations, Bala Ciroma, the IGP said the force has arrested some persons buying voter registration cards to rig the 2023 elections.
He added that some political thugs have also been arrested and are being prosecuted in court.
“We will also ensure that the police X-Squad, intelligence officers, and investigators are moved to the field to ensure that politicians moving on election days to buy votes are apprehended and dealt with according to the provisions of the law,” he added.
Baba disclosed further that the force had embedded intelligence officers during political rallies to identify with precision persons encouraging and perpetrating violence.
He said: “Some politicians spend huge sums of money to get elected to office; thus, their priority, having been elected, is to recoup the money they spent during the election.”
“The consequence of this is that those elected provide poor governance and deny the public the benefit of good governance, as they most likely are not the best candidates,” he said while reiterating that the force will ensure violators are brought to book.
Baba said the police were also ready to deal with sponsors of violence before, during, and after the elections.
“Some politicians often use the money to sponsor restive youths who are readily available and willing to be mobilized as political thugs and to wreak mayhem on opponents and voters.
“We have seen this in the current political campaigns and this violence could spread to post-election if the use of money is not checked.
“We cannot rule out attempts to entice the political umpires and security agents with money to influence the outcome of elections,” he said.
EFCC Focused On Safeguarding Electoral Process – Bawa
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, described vote buying as a major obstacle to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
The EFCC boss, represented by his Chief of Staff, Hadiza Zubairu, urged all Nigerians desirous of a better future not to be cajoled into relinquishing their right to good governance.
He said there is a need for collective work to bring about the change that is desired, taking note of the narrative around the current practice of deceptive election.
“Otherwise that will not only translate to a flawed political recruitment process but will result in a great disservice to our dear country, Nigeria.
“We have consistently witnessed the continuous exploitation of a large section of the society by politicians who succeed in cajoling the vulnerable electorates to trade in their votes for a paltry sum,” Bawa said.
He also expressed concern that the vulnerable have remained oblivious to the consequence of vote selling.
“They fail to realize that when they sell their votes, they also give up their rights to demand transparency and accountability from the elected leaders.
“They sell their future and that of their unborn children for an insignificant and greatly under-valued sum,” he added.
Bawa reiterated the commission’s commitment to preventing vote buying and safeguarding the electoral process.
He added that the EFCC had been engaged in covert and overt surveillance to track votes buyers at polling units and investigate and prosecute politicians who receive funds to influence election outcomes.
According to Bawa, some persons found guilty of unlawful acts related to elections have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.
“These efforts were also repeated at the Osun and Ekiti states elections, as well as in the recently concluded election primaries of political parties,” Bawa said.
A Purchased Gov’t Will Have No Obligation To The People – ICPC
Speaking on the effects of vote buying in Nigeria, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said any government that purchased its way into power will have no obligation to the people.
Owasanoye expressed concern over damages that have been done to the nation because of vote buying, noting that if the summit is not held and measures are not taken, it will get to a helpless and frustrating stage.
He said: “The knowledge that this process cannot and should not be manipulated will always put an elected government on their toes to deliver if they win freely, fairly, and squarely.”
“A faulty and corrupt electoral process emboldened incompetent and corrupt government. They don’t have to care about our feelings and our complaints.
“In such a situation, impunity will reign and corruption will thrive. This is what this conversation is designed to prevent from happening.
“We may not get it 100% right, but the journey of 1000 miles must begin with the first step, and this is the major big step we have taken,” he said.