By Angela Atabo
Abuja – The Electoral Institute (TEI) says it plans to discourage vote buying in Nov. 16, Kogi governorship election by ensuring sanctity of vote.
TEI Chairman, Mr Adedeji Soyebi, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen on the sideline of the Policy Dialogue on Kogi election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Monday.
Soyebi, also INEC National Commissioner said already, there were reports of violence and anticipated vote buying in the state, but efforts were being made to curb them.
“On our own side, what we will do is to discourage potential vote buying by increasing the sanctity of the vote, if you vote now, it is difficult for another person to see it.
“So, where there is no evidence of you vote there will be no corresponding money coming after it.
“We have said it consistently, vote buying is more of a criminal offence than an electoral offence, the security apparatus has been dealing with this and would continue to deal with it.
“That is what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is doing, we are adopting a proactive means that will really deter vote buying.
“It is a pre-emptive measure and that is the only way because prevention will work better than any form of cure, but when it comes to dealing with it in a chaotic way, the security apparatus are up to the task,” he said.
According to Soyebi, the commission already knows what Kogi is, adding that all the indicators, the early warning signs indicate that there will be violence and it cannot be over looked.
Earlier, Dr Sa’ad Idris, TEI Director-General, said the institute had two major critical mandates of training, research and documentation for elections.
Idris said that the policy dialogue was deliberate attempt of the commission through its research and training organ to interrogate by the way of policy dialogue, the commission’s preparedness for elections.
He said that the aim was to also interrogate to know areas that required urgent attention for improvement to ensure successful, credible and transparent governorship election in Kogi.
He said that major trainings had been carried out ahead of the election, adding that security personnel and most electoral officers had been trained remaining a few that would be trained in two weeks time.
“In fulfilling the research mandate, we deployed a tool which is the election violence mitigation and advocacy tool by going to the field, to the local government areas to administer questionnaires.
“We got information and feedback from ordinary Nigerians about what they feel about risk assessment in terms of violence in election,” he said.
Idirs said that the result was out and would be presented to the public soon, adding that it would help guide stakeholders on how to organise elections.
Prof. Sam Egwu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Niger, said there were obvious challenges to making votes count and ensuring acceptable outcome in Kogi governorship election.
Egwu urged INEC to take a decision to be accountable in terms of addressing issues that fall under its purview and work closely with stakeholders to address challenges not within its control.
He encouraged INEC to consider early deployment of ICT personnel from adjoining states to provide support in the training of ad hoc staff that would use the card readers.
He advised security agencies to work closely on already identified hot spots of violence in the state to forestall outbreak of disturbances. (NAN)