By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has expressed readiness to partner Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tackle the menace of vote-buying in the electoral system.
Acting Chairman of ICPC, Mr Musa Abubakar, made this known when he visited INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday in Abuja.
Abubakar said that ICPC identified with INEC and Nigerians on the issue of vote-buying and was willing to work with the election management body to curb the ugly trend.
He said that the commission was empowered to deal with all cases of corruption, including those committed during elections.
“The ICPC is empowered to investigate and prosecute any person involved in any act of bribery and corruption under any laws that prohibit corruption.
“I believe the Electoral Act also has provisions that deal with corruption and all forms of malpractices during election.
“So, vote-buying is one of the corrupt practices under both our law and Electoral Act.
“The main reason for this visit is to identify with the commission and the general public on the issue of vote-buying.
“We assure you that the ICPC is ever ready to partner INEC to ensure that this trend is totally eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum,’’ he said.
Responding, Yakubu commended ICPC for its commitment to partner INEC to tackle “this new brand of electoral crime’’.
He said that the commission was prepared to ensure that vote-buying did not determine the outcome of 2019 general elections.
“The votes cast by citizens will continue to determine who wins in our elections. We are focusing more on the processes leading to that outcome.
“The outcome of any election is in the hand of the voter, but we are responsible for ensuring that the process is free and credible,’’ he said.
Yakubu also said that in addition to partnering with ICPC and EFCC, INEC was taking measures at ensuring that votes were not bought particularly on election days.
He said that the commission intended to ban the use of mobile phone at the voting centres.
“We will restructure our polling units in such a way that it will be difficult for a voter to expose the marked ballot papers before dropping them into ballot boxes.
“In doing so, the commission will need the collaboration of the citizens to report any cases of electoral violation through the commission’s Situation Room and free toll line – INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC).
“I will like to speak to the citizens that whenever they see violations of Electoral Act to quickly report to these, using our toll free number under our ICCC platform so that we can quickly respond.’’
On Osun governorship election, Yakubu said that INEC was setting up an inter-agency collaborative framework against vote-buying and spending above what the Electoral Act stipulated for campaign.
“As you are aware, under the law there is spending limits for party and candidate to participate in an election.
“This inter-agency framework will include the cooperation and active participation of EFCC, ICPC and the security agencies, particularly the police and Department of State Services and the National Intelligent Agency.
“Soon after Osun election, the commission will unveil that framework for the collaboration aimed at further sanitising our election processes.’’