By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Osun, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) say vote buyers and their customers risk being arrested and prosecuted.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
According to the statement, the decision was the outcome of a meeting between the two commissions at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.
The statement said that the INEC Chairman had led a team of National Commissioners to the meeting.
According to the statement, the issue of vote buying and selling had become worrisome to the two commissions and therefore evolved measures to address the menace.
Yakubu, however, said the incidence of ballot box snatching and kidnapping of INEC officials had reduced significantly due to a number of strong reforms INEC had put in place to strengthen the electoral process.
“We are here as part of our consultations with critical agencies that are connected to the electoral process.
“We have undertaken a number of innovations to strengthen the electoral system and these days, you hear less of ballot box snatching and kidnapping of INEC officials.
”But as we solve one problem, another one is coming up.
“Of immediate concern is the election we are holding on Saturday in Osun State and it is going to be the last major election before the 2019 general elections.
“We have taken steps as a Commission, but we need the support of the EFCC in this respect.
“ Vote buying and selling is earning a bad reputation for our democracy, for our elections.
“We thought we should visit national institutions like the EFCC because they have the powers under the law to arrest, to investigate, to prosecute.
“They can assist us to stem this ugly tide of vote buying and selling,” the statement said.
Yakubu expressed regrets at increasing inducement through electronic transfers in order to influence their decisions on election day.
“We believe that you have both the law and the capacity on your side to help us in this respect,’’ he said.
He implored the EFCC to also monitor campaign finances of political parties and their candidates.
“As we go into the elections proper in 2019, we need your support in the area of campaign finance and spending by candidates.
“The law has prescribed limits as to what candidates can spend in elections but we need the enforcement of these laws.
“We don’t want the money-bags to determine our democracy. We want the votes of the people to determine who wins in our elections,’’ it said.
The EFCC Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, on his part, said there was cause for concern over vote buying and selling.
“We have the mandate to monitor money transfers and we are collaborating with the banks.
“ We have the mandate to arrest, investigate and prosecute and we are going to use the Osun governorship election as a test case,” he said.
Magu pledged to work with the INEC Chairman to curb the menace and appealed to Nigerians to support the EFCC in the fight against corruption.